Scope It Out – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Scope It Out – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about this disease and encourage people to get screened starting at age 45. Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be! It can be prevented and treated if detected early.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel, and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Sometimes, abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer. Screening colonoscopies can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best.

How Common is Colorectal Cancer?

According to the World Health Organization, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 1.8 million new cases and 881,000 deaths in 2018. In the U.S., it is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women. About 1 in 24 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined in the U.S., and the Avoyelles Parish death rate is 40% higher than the state average.

The risks also increase with age, family history, personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and diets high in red or processed meat.

What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. If you have symptoms, they may include, but not limited to:

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding.
  • Abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Anemia or low blood count.

However, some people with colorectal cancer do not have any symptoms until the disease is advanced. That is why screening is so important, even if you feel healthy and have no symptoms.


How Can Colorectal Cancer be Prevented?

The good news is that colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early with regular screenings. Colonoscopies can find polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum that can turn into cancer over time. Removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer from developing. Screening can also find colorectal cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective and survival rates are higher. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk start screening at age 45. People at higher risk may need to start screening earlier or more often. Talk to your doctor about the best screening option for you.

Besides regular screening colonoscopies, you can also lower your risk of colorectal cancer by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. These habits can lower your risk of colorectal cancer and other chronic diseases:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and fiber.
  • Limiting red and processed meat, alcohol, and sugar.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Being physically active.
  • Not smoking.
  • Manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

Take Action Today

This Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, join us in the fight against this preventable and treatable disease! On March 1, 2024, wear blue in support of colorectal cancer awareness and post online using the hashtag #ColonCancerAwareness. Learn more about colorectal cancer, its risk factors, and screening options by clicking HERE

Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should get screened. We offer Endoscopy services right here close to home, at Bunkie General Hospital. Click HERE for more information.

Please share this information with your family and friends, and encourage them to also get screened. It could save you or a loved one’s life!

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your medical provider for any questions or concerns relating to your health.


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