Published on March 01, 2019

Colorectal Cancer Awareness

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer and the third leading cause of deaths in the U.S. There are several effective detection and prevention tools available. Patients should speak with their primary care providers about which tests might be best for them.

One of the most effective cancer-prevention tools is a colonoscopy. Colonoscopy lowers the future risk of colon cancer because precancerous polyps are removed before they can grow and turn into cancers.

Colorectal cancer generally begins as small polyps in the lining of the colon or rectum that grow slowly. These polyps are non-cancerous and only a few will become cancerous, but removing them early means they never have the chance to become cancer. Because of this, a colonoscopy remains one of the most effective cancer prevention tools we have today.

Screening also is important because there generally are no symptoms at the earliest stages, when the cancer is easiest to treat. Symptoms may include rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, weight loss or fatigue. Patients should see their primary care providers if they have any of these symptoms.

Risks for colorectal cancer include increased age, a family history of colon cancer, smoking, diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, and diets high in red and processed meats.

If you are 50 or older, you should have screening for colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, you may need screening sooner. Health insurance usually covers the cost of colorectal cancer screening.

Encourage your family members and friends age 50 or older to make colorectal cancer screening a priority this month.

Learn more here.