National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - Get Screened!

March 3, 2015 by Molly Huff

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.  Colorectal Cancer - cancer of the colon or rectum - is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer is also one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in our country.

Your risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, and more than 90% of cases occur in people 50 and older. Getting screened for this deadly cancer can save your life although as many as 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened on a regular basis. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps which can be removed before they even turn into cancer. Screening can also find colorectal cancer in early stages when it's most treatable.

A few tips on reducing your risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Increased physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products
  • Supplements including aspirin, calcium, vitamin D and selenium
  • Routine colorectal cancer screening starting at at 50

Typically you should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, but you may qualify for earlier or more often screening if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer or if you have inflammatory bowel disease.

Typically you should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, but you may qualify for earlier or more often screening if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer or if you have inflammatory bowel disease.

What are the screening tests? Where do I go to have them done?

Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Some are used alone, and others are used in combination with one another. Talk with your doctor about which test or tests are right for you. Screening tests recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) are:

  • Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years)

Contact one of our Affinity Physicians or our Gastroenterologist to discuss screening and decide what strategy is best for you. Keep yourself healthy and remember that early screening is key to living a long and healthy life!