March is Colon Cancer Awareness Monthby Phillips Clinic on 02/27/23
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Each year, more than 136,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 die of the disease.
With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous. Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be easily and successfully treated.
You might be at an increased risk for colorectal cancer if you:
Are age 50 or older
Smoke or use tobacco
Are overweight or obese, especially if you carry fat around your waist
Are not physically active
Drink alcohol in excess (especially if you are a man)
Eat a lot of red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, or a lot of processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts.
Have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps
Have a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
Early stages of colorectal cancer don’t usually have symptoms. Later on, people may have these symptoms:
Bleeding from the rectum or blood in or on the stool
Change in bowel habits
Stools that are more narrow than usual
General problems in the abdomen, such as bloating, fullness or cramps
Diarrhea, constipation or a feeling in the rectum that the bowel movement isn’t quite complete
Weight loss for no apparent reason
Being tired all the time
Be physically active for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week
Maintain a healthy weight and waist size
Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit
Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman
Or two drinks per day if you’re a man
Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are good sources of fiber
Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat
Begin getting screened at age 50. If you are older than age 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened.
If you are a high risk, talk to your health care professional about screening earlier and more often
Talk to your doctor about your screening test options
TESTS THAT FIND PRE-CANCER AND CANCER:
Colonoscopy – Every 10 years
Virtual colonoscopy – Every 5 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Every 5 years
Double-contrast barium enema – Every 5 years
TESTS THAT MAINLY DETECT CANCER
Stool occult blood test (FOBT) (guaiac) Every year
Stool immunochemical test (FIT) – Every year
Stool DNA test (sDNA) – ask your health care professional; the FDA approved the use of the sDNA test in 2014
An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema, or a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test, should be followed up with a colonoscopy.