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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent and deadly cancers in the United States and the second-leading cause of cancer

death in men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women will develop colorectal cancer during

their lifetime.

 

What is it? - Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the rectum or colon. Both of these organs are in the lower portion of your digestive system.

The colon is also known as the large intestine. The rectum is at the end of the colon.

 

Risk factors:

  • Aging -Colorectal Cancer is seen more in people age 50 and over
  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
  • A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
  • Lack of regular physical activity - having a sedentary lifestyle
  • A low fiber diet - a diet low in fruit, vegetables and whole grains
  • A diet high in red meats or processed meats (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Excessive/heavy alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Having Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms - Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first. Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer

and not know it. That is why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important. Symptoms, may include:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Change in bowel movements - constipation or diarrhea
  • Change in stool shape - Stools that are more narrow than usual
  • Stomach pain, excessive gas, bloating or abdominal cramps that don't go away
  • Losing weight for no apparent reason
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms make an appointment to talk to your doctor and discuss getting a colon cancer screening.

Prevention - While you cannot prevent family history and age, there are many things you can do to help decrease your risk of colorectal cancer. Lifestyle

factors that may contribute to colorectal cancer are preventable, and may help reduce your overall risk of developing this disease.

Steps you can take to reduce risk:

  • Decrease the amount of red meat and dietary fat that you eat
  • Eliminate processed meats, such as hot dogs and deli meats from your diet
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise daily
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Don't smoke
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Decrease stress
  • Control diabetes and/or preexisting diabetes

 

Another preventive measure is to make sure you get a colonoscopy after the age of 50 - even if you don't have risk factors for colon cancer. The earlier

the cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Call and make an appointment with your doctor today and talk about getting a colon cancer screening.

The Medical Associates administrative staff has over ninety years of collective experience in leading health care teams...

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