March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March 24, 2023

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which reminds us to recognize and share the importance of getting screened for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, but it is also highly preventable and treatable with early detection. Early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer can significantly reduce the mortality rate associated with this disease.

Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum and often begins as a small growth or polyp. Over time, the polyp can turn into cancer. Screening can detect these polyps before they turn into cancer or detect cancer early when it is most treatable. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death.

Getting Screened

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk for colorectal cancer start screening at age 45, but those with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors may need to start screening earlier.

There are several different types of colorectal screenings, including stool tests, colonoscopies, and virtual colonoscopies. A stool test is a non-invasive option that can be done at home, while a colonoscopy involves a physician inserting a small camera into the rectum to examine the colon and rectum – this is usually the most preferred method for most medical providers.

Getting a colorectal screening can seem intimidating, but it is important to remember that the benefits far outweigh the potential discomfort or embarrassment. Not only can screening detect cancer early, but it can also help prevent cancer by detecting and removing polyps before they become cancerous. Additionally, the procedure is usually covered by insurance.

Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for individuals at average risk from the age of 45. The screening can be performed using various methods, including fecal occult blood tests, colonoscopies, and stool DNA tests. Regular screening helps detect precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they turn cancerous.

In addition to screening, certain lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are some of the recommended lifestyle changes that can lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

People with a family history of colorectal cancer should undergo earlier and more frequent screening tests – talk to your medical provider or CHC care team to discuss your risks.

When it comes to early detection, awareness of the symptoms of colorectal cancer is crucial. Common symptoms include rectal bleeding, persistent abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and changes in bowel movements. If these symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider and undergo appropriate diagnostic tests.

In conclusion, getting a colorectal screening is an important step in taking control of your health and preventing colorectal cancer. Getting screened will help protect you and may potentially save your life. If you are over the age of 45 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, contact CHC today to setup your screening.

© 2024 Community Health Centers of the Central Coast