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What Do You Know About Colorectal Cancer?

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. What do you know about colorectal cancer? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. among both men and women. Every year over 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with it and over 50,000 people die from it.

The good news is that it is highly preventable if identified and treated early. Age is one of the primary risk factors with 90% of cases occurring in people aged 50 and older.

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Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

One of the major problems with colorectal cancer is that it does not always cause noticeable symptoms, which is why if you are between the ages of 50 to 75 you should be screened regularly. But here are a few of the symptoms that colorectal cancer may cause according to the American Cancer Society:

  • Change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • Feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which may make the stool look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

These symptoms can indicate other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, or an infection. However, if you encounter any of these, it is a good idea to reach out to your medical professional to get a colorectal cancer screening to determine the cause of the problem.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Age is the primary risk factor for colorectal cancer with 90% of cases occurring in people aged 50 and older. Some of the other risk factors are: having a family history of colorectal cancer, race–African Americans have the highest rate of incidences and death for colorectal cancers in the U.S.–and having type 2 diabetes. These are factors you have no control over. Fortunately, there are some risk factors you can reduce through your action.

Controllable Risk Factors

Limit Red Meat and Processed Meat
Studies have linked diets with a lot of red meat and processed meat-such as hot dogs and some lunch meat–to an increased risk of contracting colorectal cancer.

Lose Excess Weight
Increased colorectal cancer is another disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, where being overweight is a significant contributor. Some studies indicate that the risk is greater for overweight men. Committing to losing weight, possibly with the help of some weight management services, is an important step.

Get Active
A risk factor closely-related to being overweight is low physical activity, which also tends to increase colorectal cancer rates. Starting a regular exercise program, or even just taking a brisk walk several times a week, can help reduce this risk.

Eliminate Smoking and Heavy Alcohol Consumption
Smokers and heavy drinkers are far more likely to contract colorectal cancer than non-smokers and light drinkers. Quitting smoking should be a priority when looking for ways to reduce cancer risk.

Get a Colorectal Cancer Screening

One last way to celebrate Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is to get a routine colorectal cancer screening at Primary Care Physicians of Florida from one of our gastroenterology doctors. To schedule a same-day doctor’s appointment, call us at 1-866-983-9191 or fill out our short online form to get peace of mind today.

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