March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. As a result, it is often referred to as colon cancer. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.
Risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. More than 90 percent of colon cancer cases occur in individuals who are 50 years or older. Other risk factors include having:
- A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
- Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal
- Alcohol consumption
- Being overweight or obese
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables
- Lack of regular physical activity
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Tobacco use
Pay attention to how you feel so you can be aware of any symptoms you
might exhibit. If you have symptoms, they may include:
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away
- Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal Cancer Screening
A screening test is used to look for the disease when a person does not have symptoms. When a person does experience symptoms, diagnostic tests are used to find out the cause of the symptoms.
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests are able to find precancerous polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends adults ages 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Additionally, the USPSTF suggests adults ages 76 to 85 ask their doctor about being screened as well.
When Should I Begin to Get Screened?
You should begin screening for colorectal cancer shortly after turning 50, and then continue getting screened at regular intervals. Speak with your doctor about when you should begin screening and how often you should be tested.
by providing educational materials. Healthwise is an independent company.