When it comes to awareness, few cancers have quite as much stigma surrounding them as does colorectal cancer.
It’s one of the most common yet least talked about forms of cancer in the United States. That’s why it’s so important for us to help get people talking about what it is, how it can be prevented and what the treatment options are.
What is colorectal cancer?
Essentially, any cancer that starts in the colon, rectum or even the large intestine is termed colorectal cancer. It’s most often found in people 45 or older, but it can occur at any age.
What are the warning signs?
The strongest weapon against colorectal cancer is early detection. Here are just a few of the warning signs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to as possible indicators that colorectal cancer is present:
- Changes in stool or bowel habits
- Stomach pains, aches or cramps that don’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
Your doctor can help you determine if these symptoms are from cancer or some other problem, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these.
How can I prevent it?
Although studies are still being conducted to determine the best ways to reduce risk factors of developing colorectal cancer, these are the things you can do right now to reduce or limit your risk:
- Quit smoking — Smoking increases your risk for many types of cancers and ailments
- Limit alcohol consumption — Moderation is key to limiting risk factors
- Eat right — Diets high in fat and calories put you at greater risk
- Get moving — Obesity puts you at higher risk, so get out, get active and get fit
- Understand family history — If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, you’re at higher risk
- Get screened — If you’re over 45, talk to your doctor about the best screening options
What are the treatment options?
Surgery is often necessary to remove tumors from colorectal cancer. The type of procedure varies depending on the severity of the cancer and the stage at which it’s discovered. To learn more about what procedures are used to treat and remove colorectal cancer, visit our Online Health Library.
Talking about colorectal cancer is one of the best ways to spread awareness. By educating yourself and understanding your own risk, you can help others learn more about this devastating disease, too.