March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
For the City Times
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening tests, at least 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.
“The American Cancer Society reports that American men have a 1 in 22 chance of developing colorectal cancer during their lifetime, while American women have a 1 in 24 chance,” said Joel Carlson, MD, gastroenterologist with Aspirus Gastroenterology in Wisconsin Rapids. “Most people should get screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer or who are at high risk should start screening sooner. Ask your primary care provider what’s right for you.”
Colorectal cancer often starts with no warning signs or symptoms. That’s why screening is important. Screening can help detect cancer early when it’s easiest to treat. Better yet, a colorectal cancer screening often allows doctors to find growths (polyps) in the colon or rectum that might turn into cancer and remove them before they become cancerous.
When symptoms are present, these may include:
- Blood in or on the stool
- A change in bowel habits
- Diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than a few days
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Weakness and fatigue
- Abdominal (belly) pain, or problems with gas or bloating
- Rectal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
Talk to your primary care provider if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. While other conditions, such as hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome, can also cause these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to talk to your primary care provider about what you’re experiencing so the cause can be figured out and treated.
Visit www.aspirus.org/prevention to take a colon health risk assessment to learn about your risk for colorectal cancer.