Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Since then, it has grown to be a rallying point for the colon cancer community where thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates throughout the country join together to spread colon cancer awareness by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, talking to friends and family about screening and so much more. As part of colon cancer awareness we raise awareness about colorectal cancer and take action toward prevention.
Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be! It is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Nine out of 10 colon cancers could be prevented or successfully treated with regular colon cancer screenings.This disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50. Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
If you have symptoms, they may include:
- Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement)
- Stomach pain,aches, or cramps that don’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them,see your doctor. Some people at a higher risk than other for developing colorectal cancer. There are several screening test options:
- Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
- High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)(every year)
- Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years,with FOBT every three years).
Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. Colon cancer most often begins as clumps of precancerous cells (polyps) on the inside lining of the colon. Polyps can appear mushroom-shaped, or they can be flat or recessed into the wall of the colon. Removing polyps before they become cancerous can prevent colon cancer. Most of these problems are more often caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
If your cancer is small, localized in a polyp and in a very early stage, your doctor may be able to remove it completely during a colonoscopy. Larger polyps may be removed using endoscopic mucosal resection. If the pathologist determines that it’s likely that the cancer was completely removed, there may be no need for additional treatment. Polyps that can’t be removed during colonoscopy may be removed using laparoscopic surgery. Several screening options exist — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you. GET SCREENED. And urge those you love to do the same.