March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Preventable, Treatable and Beatable

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50.  There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so important to get screened.   You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Everyone can take these healthy steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:

People over age 50 are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other risk factors are:

  • Polyps (growths) inside the colon
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that cause chronic inflammation (ongoing irritation) of the intestines

Use this calculator to find out your risk of colorectal cancer.

If you act early, you have a good chance of preventing colorectal cancer or finding it when it can be treated more easily.

  • Polyps found inside your colon during testing can be removed before they become cancer.
  • If you find out you have cancer after you get tested, you can take steps to treat it right away.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get tested starting at age 50.

Talk with your doctor about getting screened.

Print these questions to ask your doctor about colorectal cancer screening. Take them to your next checkup.

Colorectal cancer is a term that’s used for both colon cancer and rectal cancer. Like other types of cancer, colorectal cancer can spread to other parts of your body.

There are different ways to test for colorectal cancer. Some tests are done every 1 to 3 years. Other tests are done every 5 to 10 years. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you and how often to get screened.  Some tests for colorectal cancer can be done at home, such as fecal occult blood test.  Other tests, such as a colonoscopy, must be done in a clinic or hospital setting.

Most people can stop getting screened after age 75. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.

The Colon

The colon is part of the body’s digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients(vitaminsmineralscarbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the mouth, throatesophagusstomach, and the small and large intestines. The colon (large bowel) is the first part of the large intestine and is about 5 feet long. Together, the rectum and anal canal make up the last part of the large intestine and are 6 to 8 inches long. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body).

 

 


Get support.

If you are nervous about getting a colorectal cancer test, get support.

  • Ask a family member or friend to go with you.
  • Talk with people you know who have been screened to learn what to expect.

Give support.

Do you know someone age 50 or older who hasn’t been tested for colorectal cancer yet? Use these tips to start a conversation about the importance of screening.

Quit smoking.

People who smoke are more likely to get colorectal cancer. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today

Watch your weight.

Being overweight increases your chance of developing colon cancer. Find out how to control your weight

Get active.

Regular exercise may help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. Take these steps to get moving today.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Drinking too much alcohol may increase your risk of colorectal cancer. If you choose to drink, have only a moderate (limited) amount. This means:

  • No more than 1 drink a day for women
  • No more than 2 drinks a day for men

Eat healthy.

Eating healthy foods that are low in certain kinds of fat – and high in calcium and fiber – may help prevent colorectal cancer. 

Talk with your doctor about taking aspirin every day. 

Taking aspirin every day can lower your risk of colorectal cancer, heart attack, and stroke. But it’s not right for everyone. If you are age 50 to 59, ask your doctor if daily aspirin is right for you.

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