Learn how to lower chance for colon cancer this National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal cancer kills nearly 50,000 people per year in the United States. That’s more people than fill Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati or Progressive Field in Cleveland.
It’s the third-most common cancer, mostly affecting those ages 50 or older.
Thanks to early detection, improved treatment and emphasis on prevention, more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors live in the U.S. Despite encouraging trends showing a decrease in this form of cancer, the incidence of colon cancer for those under age 50 has risen. This is the only age group experiencing an increase, which is possibly attributed to lifestyle choices such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer symptoms only appear after the disease spreads. These include: stomach pain, blood in or dark stools, a change in bowel habits (more frequent, feeling not emptying), or fatigue.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in your colon or rectum. The cells come together to form growths called polyps, which can turn into cancer. Routine screenings can help identify polyps for early removal, before they become cancerous.
Doctors often perform a colonoscopy to screen for this type of cancer. This test allows them to see the inside of your colon and rectum, and remove polyps for further examination. There are also stool tests, which can be done at home, and procedures (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography) that take place at a medical facility.
Screening tests are recommended for everyone 50 and older, and earlier for those with certain medical histories. People who have had ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease and cancer of the ovary have a higher chance of getting colorectal cancer.
Talk to your doctor about the right test for you. All tests can help greatly increase your odds of not dying from the disease.
Some risk factors you just can’t change: Getting older, race and ethnicity, family medical history… However, there are steps you can take.
How to lower your risk for colon cancer
To lower the risk for colorectal cancer, experts recommend you:
– Maintain healthy weight
– Be physically active
– Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and limit alcohol consumption
– Avoid smoking
If you would like to schedule a screening or have any questions about colorectal cancer, the Mercy Health team is here for you. Call 513-952-5000 or visit mercy.com to find an expert, compassionate caregiver near you today.