March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

But what does that mean?  Living in our busy age of near-constant information, it’s easy to hear something like that and not really listen.

So here are some fast facts to skim and give yourself a good start on understanding why this is important and what you can do for yourself and your family. These come from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people affected by the disease.

What is colon or colorectal cancer?

  • Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum and is often called colon cancer for short
  • Your colon (large intestine) is part of your digestive system
  • Abnormal growths – called polyps – can form in the colon or rectum and over time turn into cancer. Regular screenings catch these early when treatment works best.

Talk to your provider about doing the easy, at-home FIT test screening and get $15 when you return the test.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?How common is colorectal cancer?

  • 147,950 new cases are expected in 2020
  • On average, your lifetime risk is 1 in 24
  • Over 90% of new cases occur in people 50 and over
  • But colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger people too

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

Anyone can be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but these things may increase your risk:

  • A personal or family history of polyps or cancer
  • If you are over the age of 50
  • Genetic conditions like Lynch Syndrome, FAP (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis), MAP (MUTYH-Associated Polyposis)
  • Diagnoses like ulcerative colitis, IBD or Crohn’s disease
  • Certain Ethnic groups have a higher risk including African Americans, Jewish people of Eastern European descent, Native Americans and Native Alaskans

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Not all patients experience symptoms, so regular, timely screenings are critical, but definitely talk with your provider if you exhibit:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort and stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

What you can do

  • Know the signs and symptoms
  • Listen to your body and speak up if something is not right
  • Know your family health history
  • Get screenings beginning at age 50 (earlier if you’re at high risk)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat a healthy diet

But we can never say it enough.  Early screenings save lives, so if you’re over 50 and overdue for a colorectal cancer screening, talk to your

Set up your appointment today!