March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Image Source: Canva

Colorectal cancer or colon cancer for short, is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. With the pandemic, colorectal cancer screenings have dropped. The goal of this month is to gain awareness of the disease and encourage people to get early screenings. When discovered early, colon cancer is very treatable.

Colorectal Cancer

The colon is connected to the large intestine. Most colorectal cancer develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous if not removed.3 Screening tests are used to find and remove polyps. The scientific medical community is always doing research to discover new findings.6

Screening Tests8

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends adults aged 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Screening tests are used to find polyps or colon cancer. A few of the tests are:

  • Stool Tests: This test is used to detect blood in your stool. Stool samples are checked in a lab to determine the existence of blood.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: For this test, a doctor inserts a thin tube in your rectum to check for polyps or cancer in the rectum or the lower third of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy: This is like the flexible sigmoidoscopy test, but your entire colon is checked for polyps.
  • CT Colonography: Also known as a virtual colonoscopy, this test uses X-rays and computers to get images of your entire colon for examination.

Symptoms4

Many times, colorectal cancer does not cause symptoms, which is why screenings are so important.7 Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Unexplained weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors:2

  • As you get older, your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases
  • Having a family history of colorectal cancer
  • Lack of physical activity
  • A diet that lacks fruits or vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

Facts & Statistics

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S3
  • It is the second leading cause of death in men and women combines in the U.S3
  • It is mostly found in people 50 years or older.3
  • The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.0%) for women.5

What should you do?

Talk to your doctor at your annual check up to see if a simple stool test at home is right for you. Beginning at the age of 50, those with no symptoms should consider getting a colonoscopy every 10 years. You can do your part to prevent colorectal cancer. Visit www.cancer.org for more information.

Sources:

  1. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  2. What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer? | CDC
  3. What is Colorectal Cancer? | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  4. ​What are the symptoms of Colon and Rectal Cancer? | Colorectal Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org)
  5. Colorectal Cancer Statistics | How Common Is Colorectal Cancer?
  6. NATIONAL COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH – March 2021 | National Today
  7. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need To Know (jacksonhealth.org)
  8. Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests | CDC

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