Cancer of the colon or rectum is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers throughout the US. Initiated in 2000, National Colorectal Cancer Month aims to raise awareness for this potentially deadly medical condition, urging Americans to take preventative measures to mitigate their risks. This article will provide you with facts about colorectal cancer and some helpful tips to aid in keeping these organs healthy.
Colorectal Cancer Facts
- Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
- Every year, about 140,000 people in the United States get colorectal cancer, and more than 52,000 people die of it.
- Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. If you have symptoms, they may include blood in or on the stool, abdominal pain that doesn’t go away, or losing weight and you don’t know why. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
- There are several screening test options. Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.
- Only about two-thirds of adults in the United States are up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colorectal Cancer?
Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. They may not cause any symptoms, especially early on. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Research is underway to find out if changes to your diet can reduce your colorectal cancer risk. Medical experts often recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. This diet also may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Researchers are looking at the role of some medicines and supplements in preventing colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer in some adults, depending on age and risk factors.
Additional Steps to Reduce Your Risk
Aside from screenings, altering your diet, and taking aspirin, there are several other actions you can take to mitigate your risk of colorectal cancer. For example, getting a healthy amount of physical activity throughout the week may help reduce your risk while providing an array of additional physical and mental health benefits. It would help if you spoke with a health professional before taking part in certain forms of physical activity to ensure you don’t over-exert yourself. In addition, cutting down alcohol consumption and refraining from smoking have also proven to protect against colorectal cancer.