March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year! However, this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50. If everyone aged 50 years and older were screened regularly, approximately 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.
Did You Know…
- Your risk of colon cancer actually increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in individuals between the ages of 50 years and older
- Screening is so important! You may not always have symptoms at first, but cancer may still occur without any signs
- If you do experience symptons, be aware of the following that may indicate colorectal cancer and contact your doctor:
- Blood in or on stool (bowel movement)
- Stomach pain, aches, cramps that too not go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- Some people may be at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn's or ulcerative colitis)
- Personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- Genetic syndrome (including familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome)
- Lack of physical acitivity
- Low amounts of fruits/vegetables or a low-fiber diet
- Obesity and/or overweight
- Alcohol consumption or tobacco use
When To Screen
- People at increased risk for colorectal cancer may need to start screening at an earlier age and get tested more frequently than others. Talk to your doctor to see what is appropriate for you.
- Regular screenings begin at age 50 years old, then a colonoscopy every 10 years after is indicated
- Patients with Lynch Syndrome should receive colonoscopy earlier at age 20-25, then every 1-2 years after
What You Can Do
- Be aware of signs and symptoms
- Be physically active!
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Don't smoke
- Get screened!
For more information, please visit:
By: Sonya Kara & Dylan Blumberg, 2018 PharmD Candidates