March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

As a preventable disease, colorectal cancer affects more than 140,000 Americans each year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups. It is most often found in people age 50 and older, with individuals battling Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

We know, the idea of screening for colon cancer can make people uncomfortable, but it can make the difference between saving your life or having cancer. Not only is it beneficial for you to be aware of your health, it’s important to stress it to your family members as well. It can be hard to tell family members, especially parents, what to do, but be supportive of them and volunteer to take them to appointments and be their ride after the test.

At Gastrointestinal Specialists, we strive to make you and your family as comfortable as possible with your screening and/or procedure. We offer a variety of services for your convenience, so be sure to schedule your screening with us today.

This month, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the benefits of getting screened, and spreading the word about this preventable condition.

Screening

As men and women approach the age of 50 (45 if you are African-American), it’s more important than ever to get screened. In fact, if you have a family history with the disease you should be screened earlier. Screenings are often effective for both early detection and prevention, sometimes as early as three years before colorectal cancer has become fully developed. The three main screening tests are colonoscopy, fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy. For more helpful information, check out our blog post on colon cancer screening!

Symptoms

Commonly reported symptoms for colorectal cancer include, bloody stool, nausea, unexpected weight loss, fatigue, cramping and sudden changes in bowel movements (like diarrhea or constipation).

Treatment

Treatment options for colorectal cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of the above. We wrote an entire blog on this with all sorts of helpful information, which you can find here.

How To Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved in the fight to stop colon cancer. Organizations like Colorectal Cancer Alliance work year round to raise funds, host support events, and improve research efforts. According to their mission, the CC Alliance aims “to end the disease within our lifetime.” Other groups supporting similar efforts this month include American Cancer Society, Stop Colon Cancer Now, and The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.

Colorectal Cancer Facts

  • Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer occurrence and death for men and women in the United States combined.
  • Audrey Hepburn, Ronald Reagan, and Vince Lombardi all had colorectal cancer.
  • President Bill Clinton first designated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in February 2000.
  • Dark blue is the official color of colon cancer awareness.