March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

colorectal cancer awareness

 

 

 

March is national colorectal cancer awareness month, a month devoted to encouraging men and women over the age of 50 to get screened for colorectal cancer.  Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Regular screenings in people age 50 and older could prevent 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer.  Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.  However, many people aren’t getting screened properly, early enough, or often enough. This can lead to late detection and serious, potentially fatal disease. The screening tests for colorectal cancer can help find benign polyps before they become cancerous or find cancer early on when it has not yet progressed and can be cured with treatment, such as chemotherapy.

People who want to avoid colorectal cancer should also live a healthier lifestyle. Things like increasing your physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol consumption, and not smoking can drastically reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. These screening tests are so important because you could have precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer and not experience symptoms until it is too late. Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Stomach pains, aches, or cramps that persist
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you are experiencing these symptoms you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Screening for colorectal cancer can be done in a few different ways:

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Stool test (FOBT)
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every 3 years)

Everybody over the age of 50 should get screened for colorectal cancer until the age of 75. After the age of 75 you should speak to your doctor about whether you should continue screening.

More information can be found at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/colon-and-rectal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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