Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Woman holding her stomach

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate yourself on this type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum, both parts of the large intestine. The American Cancer Society estimates over 140,000 new cases of colorectal (colon or rectal) in 2018 and it’s the third most common cancer for women, after lung and breast. The positive news is colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and curable kinds of cancer.

Regular Colorectal Screening

Screening is the most powerful tool in colorectal cancer prevention. For most people, screening will begin at age 50. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer may begin screening at a younger age.

Regular screening will detect polyps before they turn to cancer, allowing your doctor to remove and treat accordingly. Even if the polyps have already turned to cancer, when detected and treated early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.

The best tool for identifying colorectal cancer is an internal test called a colonoscopy, which consists of cleansing the bowel and inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the colon. The doctor will be able to look for polyps or lesions in the colon or rectum. If detected, they will be removed and tested, treating the patient based on the test results.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

There are several risk factors of colorectal cancer you cannot change, including:

  • Age – most commonly diagnosed after age 50
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps, cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Inherited gene mutations
  • Type 2 diabetes

Other risks that you can change include: being overweight, especially around the midsection; physical inactivity; having a diet high in red and processed meats; smoking; and heavy alcohol consumption. To reduce your risk, live an active lifestyle at a healthy weight, eat more fruits and vegetables, quit smoking, and avoid excess alcohol consumption.

Colorectal Cancer Signs and Symptoms in Women

Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you experience unusual bowel habits, large amounts of dark blood during bowel movements, prolonged constipation or diarrhea, spasms or unfamiliar pain in the lower stomach, or thin/narrow bowel movements for more than a few days.

Take some time to learn more about colorectal cancer, and contact your Capital Women’s Care provider should you need assistance finding resources.

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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