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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States. But there is good news … It is one of the most preventable types of cancer!

Screening for colon cancer is important because of prevention and early detection. Colon cancer begins with a growth called a polyp that has not yet become cancer. Removing the polyp before it turns into cancer is an excellent preventative measure.

A person can have the disease and not even know. If colon cancer is detected early, there is a better chance of beating it with treatment!

If the disease has progressed, there may be symptoms including:

  • blood in or on your stool
  • stomach pain
  • aches or cramps that do not go away
  • unintentional weight loss

If you are age 50 or older, you need to get tested for colon cancer. According to, if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, six out of ten deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

Most people who get colon cancer have no family history of the disease. But if you do, testing is even more important for you.

Tests for Colorectal Cancer include:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years – lower part of colon and rectum
  • Colonoscopy every ten years – entire colon
  • Barium enema every five years – if the test shows growths/polyps, a colonoscopy will need to be done to remove the polyps
  • CT colonography every five years – if the test shows growth of polyps, a colonoscopy will need to be done every five years

Tests for cancer include:

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Fecal immunochemical test
  • Abnormal test results will indicate the need for a colonoscopy

Risk Factors include:

  • Diet high in red meats and processed meats
  • physical inactivity
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • heavy alcohol use
  • age 50 and over
  • family history and inherited syndromes
  • personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Lifestyle changes can reduce your chance of getting Colorectal Cancer. But most importantly, please get tested because early detection is so important!

For more information, contact Medical Center Health System Oncology Navigation: