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Colorectal Cancer : Prevention
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine
Because the prognosis for colorectal cancer is greatly improved with early diagnosis, prevention and proper screening for colorectal cancer is critical in reducing the number of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer and the number of deaths caused by the cancer. Identifying and proper screening of patients that are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer help prevent or detect colorectal cancer in an early stage. Taking steps to minimize ones risk for colorectal cancer is also important to prevent colorectal cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following guidelines for nutrition and physical activity to help lower the risk of colorectal cancer:

  1. Eat a variety of healthful foods, with an emphasis on plant sources.
    Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
    Maintain a healthful weight throughout life.
  2. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.

The American Cancer Society also recommends the following guidelines on screening and surveillance for the early detection of colorectal polyps and cancer for men and women at the age of 50:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years;
    Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years;Yearly fecal occult blood test;Colonoscopy every 10 years;
  • Barium enema with air contrast study every 5 years.

People with an increased risk for colorectal cancer should begin screening before the age of 50. The following are considered to have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.

  • Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with colorectal cancer before the age of 60 or two first-degree relatives at any age;Having a hereditary condition (familial adenomatous polyposis);Personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer;
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Other factors have been linked to a reduction in risk for colorectal cancer, which include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin, estrogen therapy, and calcium and folic acid supplements.



TCM methods of prevention and management are similar to Western medicine, please see Western section for reference; nursing management is a characteristic of TCM. TCM physicians concentrate on the following:

Psychological consultation and reassurance
Both the physician and family members should try to relieve the patient's mental burden through language and behavior, so as to build up the patient's self-confidence to fight the cancer. Patients can also help by practicing qigong. Keeping good personal hygiene, eating a moderate diet, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and keeping stress to a minimum, are also important ways to prevent disease progression.

Food and dietary therapy
Patients should have multiple small meals everyday; the food should be light and easily digested, and cover all essential nutrients. The daily diet should include an increased intake of fiber and fruit. TCM functional food has a long history, and the use of tonics taken with food pre-date their use as medicine. Combined with food, tonics are absorbed better and are seen as an ideal way to keep bodily functions in check.

Porridge of Water Caltrop
Therapeutic benefits
: used as a tonic to invigorate the stomach and nourish the intestines.
10-20 pieces water caltrop
Water caltrop
1 tablespoon honey
about 1 cup glutinous rice
(Job's tears, lotus seed or the seed of Golden Euryale (qian shi) can replace water caltrop with the same results.)

Peel off the skin of the water caltrop and cook in a pot with sufficient water; when it turns into a semi-paste, add the glutinous rice and further cook into porridge. Add one tablespoon of honey before serving.

Other functional foods like dried mushrooms, white and black fungus, and fresh mushrooms are also recommended. These foods enhance the immune system and improve the body's constitution.