Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in the US for men and women. But colon and rectal cancers can be prevented if caught early, when they might be easier to treat. That’s why getting screened is so important.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the digestive track's lower end. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the Untied States, with more than 140,000 U.S. cases and 50,000 deaths each year.
Signs and Symptoms
Colorectal cancer symptoms depend on the size and location of the cancer. Some commonly experienced symptoms include changes in bowel habits, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool, and abdominal discomfort. Other common symptoms are fatigue or weight loss.
What You Can Do
If you’re 50+, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. Screening tests help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
Weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men. Staying at a healthy weight may help lower your risk.
Physical activity: Increasing your level of activity lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Regular moderate activity such as things that make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk, lowers the risk, but vigorous activity might have an even greater benefit. Increasing the intensity and amount of your physical activity may help reduce your risk.
Diet: Diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and low in red and processed meats, have been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk.
Alcohol: There is a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men. Avoiding excess alcohol may help reduce your risk.
Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and.
Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important.
Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.
There are several screening test options. Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.
- Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
- High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year)
- Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every three years)
Colorectal cancer treatment depends on the size, location, and how far the cancer has spread. Common treatments include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.