March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
What is colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer is cancer that starts in the colon. The longest part of the large intestine is the colon; rectal cancer is the cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Your doctor may use the term colorectal cancer to describe either one of these cancers. Almost all colon cancer starts as a small growth called a polyp. These polyps can grow for many years before some of them become cancer. You may be able to help prevent colon cancer with regular checkups and screenings that make it possible for polyps to be removed.
The second-leading cancer killer
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women. But if everyone between 50 and 75 years of age were screened regularly, it is estimated that as many as 60 percents of deaths from colon cancer may be preventable. In South Carolina, 2,300 cases were diagnosed, and more than 700 people died from colon cancer in 2010.
Who gets colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all ages and races. Ninety percent of the time, colon cancer occurs in adults older than 50.
Are you at risk?
People with a family history of colon cancer and colon polyps are more likely to develop colon cancer. It is recommended that people with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors should be screened sooner and more often. Ask your doctor when you should be screened.
Who should get screened for colon cancer?
It is important to get screened if you:
1. Are 50 or older
2. Have close relatives who have had colon cancer
3. Have other bowel diseases
4. Have already had an abnormal colonoscopy (including polyps)
5. Are older than 50 and haven't had a colonoscopy in 10 years
Five Important Facts about Colon Cancer
1. In South Carolina, African Americans have a higher death rate from colon cancer than do people of other races. Compared to whites, African Americans are less likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more successful.
2. In the early stages of colon cancer, there may be no symptoms. You may be able to help prevent colon cancer with regular checkups and screenings that make it possible for polyps to be removed.
3. There are several types of tests that can help screen for colon cancer; colonoscopy is one of the recommended screening and prevention options.
4. Your doctor will probably refer you to a specialist called a gastroenterologist when it?s time for you to have a colonoscopy.
5. In addition to regular screening, following the habits of a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of colon cancer.
For more information, visit www.loveyourcolon.org.
Also check out March's calendar of events on this website!