Join Us in Raising Awareness of Colorectal Cancer
You hear a lot about certain types of cancer. In fact, you can probably name some famous people who have had breast cancer, lung cancer, and even pancreatic cancer.
Colorectal cancer doesn’t get the same amount of attention, even though it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. among cancers affecting both men and women, killing more than 50,000 people in this country each year. Worryingly, colorectal cancer rates have been increasing most among young adults.
That lack of awareness is a real shame because there are proactive things people can do to reduce their risk and increase the chances of early detection. Without early detection, a patient’s prognosis is grim. The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer is a whopping 90%. For patients whose cancer is detected at a more advanced stage — when it has spread to distant parts of the body — five-year survival rates plunge to 14%.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and we hope you’ll join us in spreading the word about this form of cancer, and about the following steps people can take to reduce their own risk.
Assess your hereditary risk
Certain families have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. If you’re in one of those families — meaning you have at least one or two close relatives who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or Lynch syndrome — or if you don’t have access to your family history, then a genetic test can help you understand your personal risk. Check out this short quiz to find out if genetic testing is recommended for you.
Commit to screening
The single best way to ensure early detection of problems is to get screened regularly. And while the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening is the dreaded colonoscopy, your doctor may recommend screening tests based on stool samples as a non-invasive alternative. The current U.S. government recommendation for colorectal screening starts at age 45, but given the rising incidence among young adults, some experts believe screening at younger ages is a good idea.
Know the symptoms
Whether you’re on a screening regimen or not, be aware of the symptoms of colorectal cancer and be sure to talk to a doctor if you experience any of them. The most common include blood in the stool, lingering stomach pain, and unexpected weight loss.
Adjust your lifestyle
Like other cancers, colorectal cancer rates are higher among smokers, heavy drinkers, and people with excess weight. Smoking cessation, drinking in moderation, and a good exercise routine can help reduce your risk. Also, eating a diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains has been associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.