According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 1 million American survivors of colorectal cancer.
Early detection is key to treating colorectal cancer effectively, which is why it is critical to follow national guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. In most cases, that means beginning screening at age 50 and having repeat colonoscopies every 10 years thereafter.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
There are a number of signs that can point to colorectal cancer, including:
- Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
- Blood in stool
- Change in bowel habits
- Narrow stools
- Passing excessive amounts of gas
- Weight loss
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above, particularly for any length of time, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. He or she will be able to provide guidance about what to do next.
Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's important to begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you may need to be screened sooner.
A colonoscopy is the most commonly used and recommended screening test since it allows for the removal of polyps if they're spotted during the screening.
Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Let's take a look at some ways you can decrease your risk of colorectal cancer.
First, you want to make sure that you are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. When filling up your plate, make sure you do so in the most colorful way possible. Eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies helps ensure you are getting a full range of nutrients.
Second, if you are currently a smoker, try to quit sooner rather than later. You may wonder what smoking and colorectal cancer have to do with each other—well, smoking is associated with the development of more aggressive cancerous polyps, as well as an increased risk of colorectal cancer and dying from the disease.
Finally, you want to make sure you are doing all you can to maintain a healthy weight, which includes exercising on a regular basis. Most researchers recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
From diagnostic screening through treatment, our team at Parkridge Medical Center is here with you every step of the way along your cancer journey.