In the United States, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women. There’s no sure way to prevent colorectal cancer, however, there are things that you can do that might help lower your risk.
Risk Factors that Can Be Controlled
Colorectal cancer screening: Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful tools in preventing this kind of cancer. If you’re 50 or older, you should be getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer. If you have a strong family history of this kind of cancer, you could possibly benefit from discussing your specific risk with a provider who may assist you in genetic counseling and/or more frequent tests.
Body weight, diet, and physical activity: Being overweight increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Staying at a healthy weight and managing the weight gain around your stomach can help to decrease your risk. Make sure your diet is high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while being low in processed foods and red meat. Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity has shown to decrease the risks of colorectal cancer. Take 30 minutes each day to do something that gets your heart rate up and gets you moving.
Smoking. Long-term smoking has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Quitting smoking will also lower your risk for several other kinds of cancer.
What Are the Symptoms?
Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always exhibit symptoms, especially early on. Someone could easily have colorectal cancer and not know it, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your screenings. If symptoms start to manifest, you may experience the following:
- Blood in your bowel movements
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
- Losing weight without knowing why
These symptoms could be caused by a number of health issues, so it’s important to consult with your provider as soon as you start to experience any of them.
If you’re aged 50-75, the CDC recommends that you get screened at regular intervals. These screening tests will detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. If you think you’re at an increased risk for this cancer due to genetic history, make sure to talk with your provider. They can guide you in making the best decision and answer any questions you have.
Is it time to schedule your screening? Give our hospital a call at 503-769-2175.