Know the Facts About Colorectal Cancer

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. In 2013 an estimated 73,700 men and 69,100 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and an estimated 26,300 men and 24,500 women will die from the disease. 

Knowing your risks, early detection and screening can save your life and the lives of those you love!

Risk Factors

What You Can Control (and What You Can't)

There are many colorectal cancer risks that are outside of your control, such as family history and aging. That said, there are many risk behavioral risk factors that you do have the power to affect.

Genetic and Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • You are older than age 50.
  • People in your immediate family have had colorectal cancer.
  • You have had colorectal, ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer before.
  • You have had polyps in my colon or rectum.
  • You have the condition familial adenomatous polyposis, also called FAP.
  • You have the condition hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, also called HNPCC.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

Behavioral Risk Factors (Can Typically Be Controlled)

  • You smoke.
  • You don’t have a bowel movement at least once a day.
  • You are overweight.
  • You drink more than one alcoholic drink a day.
  • You eat a lot of red meat.
  • You eat a high-fat and/or sugar diet.

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease control, www.cdc.gov/

Symptoms

Early Detection Can Save Your Life!

Some of the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer can seem like everyday occurrences—and they are often caused by bad reactions to certain foods, stress and other lifestyle issues. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, however, they could be signs of something serious.

If you have any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by colorectal cancer or another serious condition.

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days
    • diarrhea
    • constipation
    • narrowing of the stool
  • A continuing feeling that you need to have a bowel movement
  • Bleeding from the rectum, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or steady stomach pain
  • Weakness or tiredness, chronic fatigue
  • Frequent gas, pains or indigestion
  • Unexplained weight loss

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease control, www.cdc.gov/

Screenings

What Is Colorectal Cancer Screening?

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can 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.

Cancer screening tests, including those for colorectal cancer, are effective when they can detect disease early. Detecting disease early can lead to more effective treatment. In some cases, screening tests can detect abnormalities such as polyps, before they have a chance to turn into cancer. So removing polyps prevents colorectal cancer from developing.

When Should I Begin to Get Screened?

You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier or more often than other people if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; or
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease.

Speak with your doctor about when you should begin screening and how often you should be tested.

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease control, www.cdc.gov/

Fact Quiz

Quiz

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