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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dooreck with Zoeya Gordon

Marching Towards Prevention: The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, with an estimated 150,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It is also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country, claiming over 50,000 lives annually.


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States

What is colorectal cancer?


Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, typically begins as a growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the colon or rectum. These growths, called polyps, can be benign or precancerous, but if left untreated, they can develop into cancerous tumors. The key to preventing colorectal cancer is early detection and removal of these polyps before they have the chance to turn cancerous.


 

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What are the common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?


It is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer. Common symptoms include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or cramping, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, seeing your healthcare provider as soon as possible is vital for further evaluation.


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What are some common risk factors for developing colorectal cancer?


Colorectal cancer can develop due to a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Some common risk factors include a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a diet high in red or processed meats, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption. Understanding these risk factors can help individuals make informed choices to reduce their likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.


How can lifestyle changes reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer?


In addition to regular screenings, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. These include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. These steps can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer and improve your overall health and well-being.


There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
These include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.

What are the recommended screening options for colorectal cancer?


Regular screening tests are among the most effective methods for detecting colorectal cancer early. The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for adults aged 45 and older. Several screening options are available, including colonoscopies, stool tests, and virtual colonoscopies. Each test has advantages and disadvantages, so working with your healthcare provider to determine which screening method is best for you is essential.


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How can individuals help raise awareness during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month?


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a time to educate ourselves and our loved ones about early detection and prevention. By spreading awareness, we can encourage more people to get screened for colorectal cancer, potentially saving lives in the process. You can help raise awareness by sharing information about colorectal cancer on social media, participating in local fundraising events, or simply talking to your friends and family about the importance of screening.


How can individuals advocate for improved access to colorectal cancer screening and treatment options?

Individuals can advocate for improved access to colorectal cancer screening and treatment options by raising awareness in their communities, sharing their own screening experiences, participating in advocacy efforts with organizations like the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, contacting elected officials to express the importance of funding for colorectal cancer programs, and supporting initiatives that aim to expand access to affordable screening and treatment options. By taking these actions, individuals can play a crucial role in ensuring that all individuals have access to the necessary resources for early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer.


Below is an informational video from the Mayo Clinic on colorectal cancer awareness.




Statistics


  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.

  • It is estimated that there will be over 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in the US in 2022.

  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.


The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, with the majority of cases occurring in individuals over the age of 50. Early detection through screening can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and survival.


Early detection through screening can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and survival.

Lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.


A family history of colorectal cancer or certain genetic conditions can also increase the risk of developing the disease.


Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early, with a five-year survival rate of over 90% for localized-stage colorectal cancer.


Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early, with a five-year survival rate of over 90% for localized-stage colorectal cancer.


Summary


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a vital reminder of the importance of early detection, prevention, and treatment of colorectal cancer. Individuals can proactively reduce their risk by getting screened and making lifestyle changes.


With the proper knowledge, support, and resources, proactive measures can be taken to combat colorectal cancer and improve communities' overall health and well-being.


Continued education, advocacy for greater access to screening and treatment options, and support for ongoing research efforts are essential to ultimately eliminating colorectal cancer as a significant public health concern. A meaningful impact can be made through collective efforts in the fight against colorectal cancer.


Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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