Colorectal cancer – or colon cancer – is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States. Approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. It’s also the second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, and claims the lives of roughly 50,000 Americans annually. It’s important to talk about colon cancer because of its wide reach and the fact that it is highly preventable. One of the most effective ways of preventing the disease is through regular screenings. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a disease that causes abnormal division in the cells of the colon or rectum. Colon and rectal cancers are often grouped together due to similarity, but they can be distinguished by where the cancer starts. Colorectal cancer affects both men and women, and is most commonly found in people over the age of 50. When detected in its early stages colorectal cancer is highly treatable and often preventable.
Colorectal cancer typically begins in the form of polyps in the colon or rectum. These polyps may develop into colon cancer or rectal cancer over time. If the polyps are detected and removed early enough, colorectal cancer may be prevented.
How can you prevent colorectal cancer?
There are several things that can help decrease your risk for developing colon cancer.
- Smoking cigarettes increases your risk for colorectal cancer. Refrain from smoking to decrease your risk.
- Research shows a correlation between diet and colon cancer risk. Healthy diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats, especially animal fats, can help decrease your risk for colon cancer.
- Regular exercise and physical activity can also help prevent colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer screening is the most effective way of preventing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer screening saves lives.
Polyps and colon cancer do not always cause symptoms, which makes screening especially important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, 6 out of 10 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over age 50 received a colorectal cancer screening regularly.
Those between the ages of 50 and 75 should get regular colon cancer screenings.
While 90% of colorectal cancer cases occur in people over age 50, it’s possible to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age. Consider screening for colon cancer before 50 if you’re at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Colon cancer screening methods include colonoscopy, CT colonography, high-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, and stool DNA test. Your doctor can help you determine which method of screening test is right for you. Contact your primary care physician to talk about cancer screening today.