Today is Dress in Blue Day!
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. The key is regular screenings — starting earlier than you might think.
Start screening at age 45 if you are at average risk. If you are at increased risk, you may need to be screened earlier or more often – talk with your doctor right away. Early detection of colorectal cancer can mean Better Outcomes: less extensive treatment, more treatment options and better chances of survival.
Get the facts
Most people think that colorectal cancer affects only older adults—but today, more adults under 45 are being diagnosed than ever before.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the rate of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 has doubled since the 1990s. NCI estimates that by 2030, approximately 1 in 10 colon cancers and 1 in 4 rectal cancers will be diagnosed in people under 50 years old.
People under 50 who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer are more likely to:
- Be diagnosed at a later stage (when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat)
- Have to see two or more doctors before getting diagnosed
- Have a family history of colorectal cancer
It’s important for all adults to learn about colorectal cancer prevention, early detection and the signs and symptoms of the disease—even if you think you’re too young for this sh*t.
Know your risk
While your risk of getting colorectal cancer does increase as you get older, it’s important to learn about other risk factors when you’re young, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Eating a diet high in red or processed meats
- Engaging in heavy alcohol use
Your health history can also increase your risk, including having personal or family history of:
- Colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps (growths)
- Genetic syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
Or a personal history of:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
If you are at increased risk, you may need to be screened earlier or more often – talk with your doctor right away.
Understand the symptoms
Knowing the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can help you recognize any changes in your body that could be caused by cancer.
Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms (especially at first), but symptoms may include:
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
- Stomach pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away
- A change in bowel habits (like diarrhea or constipation) lasting more than a few days
- Unexplained weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. You know your body best—so don’t be afraid to advocate for your health!
Take steps to prevent
The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable. Because most colorectal cancer cases start as precancerous polyps, getting screened is the most effective way to reduce your risk.
Start screening at age 45 if you’re at an average risk, but if you have certain risk factors you may need to start screening sooner or get screened more often—talk to your health care professional.
When it comes to colorectal cancer screening, you have options. Talk with your doctor about the best screening test for you.