In honor of March being the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to highlight the importance of cancer education and prevention. Sadly, mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the lining of the body’s internal organs, making for a difficult recovery. However, colon cancer when discovered early is highly treatable and preventable.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and paying attention to your body and what it tells you can be the difference between a good and poor prognosis. A persistent cough or blood in your stool is a sign that something might be wrong. Play it safe and make sure to get annual check ups. Also, when turning 50 to get a colonoscopy--It could be what saves your life!
Learning what colorectal cancer is and how it can be prevented is the greatest way to honor the lives of those lost to the disease. Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is a disease that attacks the colon, rectum and appendix, and is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women.
In this country alone, nearly 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 50,000 more die from the disease annually. Sadly, the global numbers of deaths associated with colorectal cancer are staggering: 600,000 people globally die from the disease (Mayo Clinic).
Unlike other forms of cancer, colorectal cancer is linked most often with lifestyle habits and advancing age rather than genetics. However, some people are predisposed to colorectal cancer, though it is rare.
What are symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
- Changes in bowel movements including constipation, diarrhea and bowel incontinence
- Bloody stool or blood on the stool
- Pain in the abdomen or bloating
- Weight loss
Why do I need to be prescreened for Colorectal Cancer?
Prescreening is one of the surest ways to decrease the chance of dying from the cancer and is recommended for anyone over the age of 50. Prescreening is crucial because nearly 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year are over the age of 50.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 60% of diagnosed cases and subsequent deaths from colorectal cancer may be prevented through prescreening regimens including colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and fecal pap smears.
The importance of early screening for colorectal cancer cannot be stressed enough: 60% of all colorectal cancer diagnoses are in the late stage where treatments may not be as effective.
Prescreening is the quintessential factor that directly contributes to early detection. With colorectal cancer, the earlier cancerous cells are found, the faster and more effective the treatments are.
With regular screenings, colorectal cancer is almost entirely treatable.
How can I prevent Colorectal Cancer?
- Starting at age 50, get prescreened every 10 years.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Reduce alcohol intake.
- Eat meals that are heavy in vegetables and fruit. Diets rich in fats or have a high caloric level increase your risk.
- Exercise regularly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who do not exercise are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
If you are over 50 and still haven’t gotten a colonoscopy March is the month to get checked out. Even if you have been avoiding the uncomfortable procedure it is important to recognize that an hour of your day could be what gives you twenty more years with family and friends. Play it safe and get screened!