March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: 4 Things You Should Know

March 9, 2021 — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate yourself and others about the disease that affects about 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women according to the American Cancer Society. Here are 4 things you should know about this potentially deadly disease:

Age Plays a Role

The older you get, the more likely you are to get colorectal cancer. About 90% of colon cancer patients are over the age of 50. Regular screening should start at around the age of 50 and continue through age 75. While men are more likely to develop the disease, if you are over the age of 50, it’s important to schedule regular screenings.

Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Chances 

Risk factors can be broad and the lifestyle you choose can have a huge impact on the chance of you getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Diet, exercise, and weight all have a major impact on your chances of being diagnosed with colon cancer. Diets high in processed meat and low in fruits and vegetables, fiber and fish will put you at a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer.

A sedentary lifestyle with little to no physical activity can also impact your chances, so staying active and exercising regularly is very important.

Two other lifestyle changes can also lower your risk of colon cancer. Limiting or quitting smoking as well as limiting alcohol intake can keep you healthy and reduce your chances.

Common Symptoms 

Adults, especially those who may have family history or any risk factors, should be aware of the following symptoms for colorectal cancer:

  • A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Regular Screenings Are Important

For people at average risk of developing colorectal cancer, screenings are recommended to start at age 50 and continue through age 75. Finding cancer early often allows for more treatment options and a higher rate of survival. Colorectal cancer screenings can help find cancer in people that don’t have symptoms, which can be life saving. There are a few different options for screenings, which are typically covered by insurance.

During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and all year long, take the opportunity to learn more about the disease and share what you know with others. Colorectal cancer is typically slow growing, so with proper screening and early diagnosis, there are many treatment options and hopeful outcomes. Take this time to talk to your doctor about screening options for colorectal cancer.