March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is up to 90% beatable when caught early

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. While 90% of new cases occur in people 50 or older, 1 in 10 is diagnosed before age 50. In 2018, more than 135,000 people will be diagnosed with this highly preventable disease that affects women and men equally.

With regular screening, colon cancer can be found early. When polyps and cancer are found in early stages, it is easiest to treat and when treatment is most effective. Early detection means increased survival rates and a chance at a longer life. Colorectal cancer is up to 90% beatable when caught early.

Colorectal cancer doesn’t discriminate.  On average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 23 for both men and women but this varies widely according to individual risk factors. People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or offspring) who has colon cancer have two to three times the risk of developing the disease.

Screening is the number one way to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is unique in that it is one of the most preventable and, if found early, most treatable forms of cancer. If you’re over 50, high risk or symptomatic, don’t put it off. Talk to your provider about getting screened.

Thanks to increased screening and awareness, the colon cancer survival rate has been rising. Today there are more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the U.S. but the American Cancer Society still estimates that in 2018 alone, more than 50,000 people will die from this disease.

So what can you do? Talk to your primary care provider about regular screening and watch for the warning signs of colorectal cancer:

• Anemia
• Rectal bleeding, dark or black stool
• Change in bowel habits
• Diarrhea and/or constipation
• Narrowing of stool
• Persistent abdominal discomfort (cramps, gas, pain, or feeling bloated)
• Unexplained weight loss
• Weakness or fatigue
• Nausea or vomiting
• If you have Crohn’s, Colitis or IBS, you are at a higher risk

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 Data from the American Cancer Society and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance

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