March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it’s worth learning more about the risks and the prevention options: In 2018, more than 135,000 people will be diagnosed with this highly preventable disease. Colon cancer and rectal cancer can be prevented. Screening can detect colorectal cancer early — when it is most curable.
All adults (men AND women) over the age of 50 are at risk for colorectal cancer and should be screened for polyps and cancer. People with higher risk (possibly because of another condition or a family history) should work with a doctor to develop a more individualized screening plan.
The American Cancer Society offers a comprehensive list of risk and prevention factors broken down into factors you can change, and ones that you cannot change.
Among those you can change are lifestyle related factors: Low physical activity, obesity, certain types of diets, smoking and heavy alcohol use might increase a person’s chance of developing colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. The good news is that you can control these!
Among the most common factors you can’t change include:
- Age – over 90% of those with colorectal cancer are age 50+
- Personal history – people with a history of colon polyps, colon cancer, rectal cancer or other cancers may be at an increased risk
- Inflmmatory Bowel Disorders – if you have ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease or other bowel disorders, you are at a higher risk
- Family history – Generally, screening for family members is recommended to begin 10 years prior to the survivor’s age of diagnosis
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Certain inherited conditions
Learn more about Prevention
While there is no sure way to prevent colorectal cancer, you there are certain risk factors you can control – and screenings are also a powerful way to prevent cancer. The importance of screenings can’t be over-emphasized:
“From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer. With regular screening, most polyps can be found and removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when it is highly curable.”
Learn more about prevention and learn the American Cancer Society Recommendations for Colorectal Cancer Early Detection. The ACA offers recommended screenings and tests for people at average risk and for people at increased or high risk.
What else you can do: March 19 Dress in Blue Day
On Dress in Blue Day you can join our mission to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. By wearing blue and raising funds to support the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, you and your peers become part of a nation of passionate allies, taking on this senseless killer.