Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Can Be Stopped with Early Detection

March is National Colorectal Cancer Month. It’s a time to raise awareness about one of the most common cancers affecting both men and women. It is the second leading cause of death by cancer in the U.S. after lung cancer according to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). It also has one of the highest survival rates if detected early enough.

Despite that, more than 52,000 people died from colorectal cancer in 2023 according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). That’s more than one-third of the 153,020 people who were diagnosed with the disease last year. 

The risk of developing colorectal cancer goes up after the age of 50, however there has been a 1% to 2% increase in diagnoses of people under 50 each year. They now make up 10% of the cases in the U.S.

Colorectal Cancer Defined

Colorectal cancer is also known as just colon cancer. It’s a disease occurring in the colon or the rectum, which is the passage from the colon to the anus.

It’s often thought of as a men’s health issue because men are more likely to develop colorectal cancer, though it does affect both men and women.

Colon cancer starts with abnormal growths called polyps. These can become cancerous eventually. There is an excellent chance of survival if they are detected early enough. They can become cancerous when they’re not detected. The cancer will spread quickly to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Doctors recommend everyone over the age of 45 get screened. Those with a family history of colon cancer should be screened more frequently.

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The Symptoms

There often aren’t any symptoms for colorectal cancer until it starts to spread. That is why screening is so important. Symptoms may include:

  • A noticeable change in bowel habits lasting four weeks or more
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Enduring stomach pain or cramps
  • Unexplained weight loss

See your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms, especially those related to your bathroom habits.

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The Risk Factors

Some risk factors are unavoidable while others are within your control.

Age — which you can’t control — is the number one risk factor for colon cancer. Nine out of 10 colorectal cancer cases occur in people 50 or older.

Other risk factors include:

  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Certain genetic/inherited abnormalities such as Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and others

Let your doctor know if you have these risk factors. They may recommend earlier or more frequent testing.

Living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward cutting your risk of colon cancer. It can also lower your risk against other cancers, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, and more.

Doctor with Senior Patient

Schedule a Checkup!

The CDC recommends regular screenings beginning at age 45, for those without special health concerns or a family history of colon issues. Screenings should continue until age 75. Screenings are some of the best protections against many types of cancer. Adults between the ages of 76 and 85 should get screened only when directed by a doctor.

There are several different ways to test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you based on your health history, current risk factors, and personal preferences.

Some tests, like the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), are done once a year, and can even be done in your own home with no special preparation.

A colonoscopy is a more invasive screening but is only performed once every 10 years. It should be performed more frequently when recommended by a doctor.

In many cases, colorectal cancer screenings are covered at no cost by most health care plans.

We're Here to Serve You

Come to AltaMed to get screened, especially if you’ve been putting it off. You may be able to get a FIT kit by mail, but you should still come in. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to learn more and schedule an appointment.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Woman And Doctor Senior Screenings

Grow Healthy at Every Age with Recommended Health Screenings for Seniors

Thanks in large part to improved medical care and changes in how most of us work, people are living longer. Someone born today is expected to live until they’re 77.8 years old.

How well you age depends largely on how well you live. A big part of that includes getting regular preventive health screenings for general physical health, cancer, and mental capacity.

 No matter how old you are, AltaMed can help you grow healthy with caring, attentive service and age-appropriate care. Read on to learn about the screenings and routine visits that are recommended for seniors. 

Doctor Holding Patients Hand

Physical Screenings

Screenings can help you stay on top of chronic illnesses: if you do have a condition, it’s best to catch it early as treatment might not need to be as aggressive or invasive, and costs could be less. 

Recommended physical screenings include:

  • Blood pressure — Almost half of all adults have high blood pressure, so it’s important to have yours checked at least once a year (or as often as your doctor recommends).
  • Cholesterol — Many people are able to reduce their cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise, but sometimes medication is needed. 
  • Obesity — Being obese is hard on the heart, liver, and joints and puts you at risk for serious conditions.
  • Blood glucose and Type 2 Diabetes — Medicare covers screenings in people with one or more risk factors.
  • Vision Your eyes change with age  and you run the risk of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and loss of peripheral vision.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm — This is a standard check of the heart for men 65 to 75, who have smoked.
  • Osteoporosis — Bone-density tests are covered once every two years for women over 65. Post-menopausal women younger than 65 should also be screened.
  • Hepatitis C — Medicare covers at least one screening for adults born specifically between 1945 and 1965.
  • HIV — Older adults at higher risk include people with multiple partners, men who have had sex with other men, and people with past and present injection drug use.
  • Other STIs — Sexually active adults at all ages should be screened regularly.
Doctor Talking to His Patient

Cancer screenings

Age is a leading risk factor in a number of cancer types, though it’s not really clear why. So, it’s incredibly important to get screened. A number of cancers are easily detectible and can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

  • Colorectal cancer — Routine screening should start at 50 unless there is a family history. Then it should be earlier and more often. Otherwise, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years.
  • Breast cancer — Medicare covers screening mammograms every 12 months.
  • Cervical cancer — Older women who have never been screened should have a Pap smear at least once. Women at high risk should have one every 12 months. 
  • Lung cancer This screening is recommended for adults aged 55-80 who were heavy smokers (about 30-packs a year) or who quit in the last 15 years.
  • Prostate cancer — Men can choose between a digital rectal exam or a prostate-specific antigen test. Screenings are recommended between 55 and 69 years of age.
Women Looking at a Cell Phone

Mental and safety screenings

When your AltaMed doctor asks questions about your life and what’s been on your mind, it’s not just to be polite: they may be looking for clues about your mood, mental state, and mental sharpness. These are delicate topics, but your answers can help identify:

  • Depression — The goal is to make sure you are not on a path that could lead to harming yourself or others. Therapy, medication, or a combination can help control depression.
  • Cognitive impairment — Cognitive Impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life, and ranges from mild to severe. Doctors want to ensure you can still function in your current living situation. This may require input from a caregiver.
  • Falls and functional ability — Part of Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit includes looking at the ability to manage the activities of daily living. Doctors will ask questions about mobility and the risk of falling which could lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or breaking a hip, wrist, or some other joint. 
  • Substance use — Someone who has been drinkingsmoking or doing drugs their entire life will eventually pay the price for it. Answer honestly about alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use.

PACE Yourself with AltaMed

Making these screenings a regular part of your healthy habits could help you feel great and stay independent for longer. Talk to your doctor to get their personalized recommendations.

If you’re a caregiver or a senior with complex medical needs, AltaMed PACE offers coordinated care and services, including medical treatment, physical therapy, and social services. The program even offers meals, exercise, social activities, and transportation for qualified seniors. 

There are 11 AltaMed PACE facilities in the greater Los Angeles area including two new locations in Orange County:

1325 N. Anaheim Blvd., Suite 100
Anaheim, California 92801

Santa Ana
3601 W. Sunflower Ave., Suite 100
Santa Ana, California 92704

AltaMed PACE has made a difference for seniors like Antonio, Kenneth, and Rodolfo and Bertha – it may be right for you, too. 

For more information about services or eligibility, visit or call (855) 252-PACE (7223).

Heart on Hands

Raising Awareness About Heart Health

February is forever tied to Valentine’s Day. That means flowers, candy, romance, and hearts! Lots of hearts.

It only makes sense that February has become American Heart Month. The first Friday in February, everyone is encouraged to wear red to help raise awareness about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. It is also the most preventable.

Knowing your family’s health history, making heart-healthy diet and exercise choices, and having regular checkups can help protect your heart.

Doctor Checking Patient's Blood Pressure

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease might make you think of heart attacks. But a heart attack is just a symptom of heart disease. Heart disease includes several conditions. The most common in the U.S. is coronary artery disease. It affects the flow of blood to the heart. Others include:

  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Defects you’re born with
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart infection
Doctor in a Conversation with Senior Patients

It Affects Everyone

More than 650,000 people die each year from heart disease. That’s nearly one-fourth of all deaths in the U.S. More non-Hispanic white men die of heart disease than any other group (24.9%) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Next are non-Hispanic Black men at 23.9%, followed by men who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders at 22.9%.

Couple Riding Bicycles

Risk Factors

Family history of heart disease is one of the biggest indicators of potential heart problems. A relatively common disorder that affects one out of every 500 people is called hypercholesterolemia. It causes high levels of “bad” cholesterol, but it can be controlled.

Other factors include

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Eating a low-fat diet filled with fruits and vegetables will go a long way to not only preventing heart disease. It will also help with obesity and diabetes. The same goes for regular exercise. You don’t need to be an elite athlete. You just need to move for about 30 minutes a day. It works your heart and helps to lower your blood pressure. Quitting smoking — including vapes — is probably the best thing you can do for your heart.

Jump Start a Healthy Heart

There is so much you can do to take care of your heart that it may be a little overwhelming. AltaMed is here to help get you on a path to healthful living and help keep you there.

Our Healthy Heart Program encourages participants to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Each week, we’ll focus on topics likes stress management, exercise, nutrition, and medication compliance. The program maintains a positive, support group-type environment. Participants work together and motivate each other to succeed.

It is recommended for people who want to achieve healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll

Colorectal Cancer Can Be Stopped with Early Detection