3 Things to Know for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

We can use this month to make a difference by spreading awareness about colorectal cancer and encouraging people to take action.

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States? It is also the second leading cause of death from cancer. Only lung cancer claims a higher mortality rate.

For 2018, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be approximately 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer. To put this into perspective, approximately 1 in 20 people will be affected by colon cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that it is preventable with screening.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors, Screening, and Treatment

While colorectal cancer affects the lives of over 140,000 Americans each year, the reality is that it is preventable. This month, help us raise awareness. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable. The key preventive strategy is “screening, screening, screening.” One of the most acceptable choices is to get a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50 if you have average risk. Other screening choices include fecal DNA testing and stool hemoccult testing (FIT). Why get screened? These tests are designed to catch colorectal cancer early when it is easiest to fight the disease. Detection of polyps and subsequent polyp removal by colonoscopy is the best strategy to prevent colon cancer before it forms since all colon cancers start as polyps.
  2. There are some colorectal cancer risk factors you can change. The links between dietary habits, weight, and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are considered some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Lifestyle-related risk factors include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, diets high in red meats, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.
  3. Some colorectal cancer risk factors you cannot change. While you can live a healthier lifestyle to decrease your risk, there are still some risk factors that are out of your hands. For example, the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. While younger adults can get it, it’s much more common after 50. The average age of diagnosis is 68 for men and 72 for women. Family history also plays a role, as nearly 1 in 3 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have family members who have had it. A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or colorectal polyps also mean that you are at an increased risk of developing the cancer. Finally, inherited syndromes such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis increase your risk as well.

To set up or discuss colonoscopy, call +1 (615) 383-0165 for Dr. Mertz and Dr. Pruitt at St. Thomas West, +1 (615) 329-2141 for Dr. Bailey and Dr. White at St. Thomas Midtown, or +1 (615) 250-4108 for Dr. Eskind and Dr. Granda at St. Thomas West.

To set up fecal DNA testing or hemoccult tests for detection of cancer, please discuss this with your primary doctor. You can also schedule an appointment online.