As the calendar turns to the towards Spring, we look forward to longer days and shorter nights, the arrival of spring showers, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and the fun of March Madness. But it’s not the Luck o’ the Irish that will keep you from developing one of the most common forms of cancer. Only early detection and preventative steps can do that.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colon cancer is the second most leading cancer killer in the United States, following lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women. Every year, over 140,000 Americans are diagnosed as having colorectal cancer. Of this population, an estimated 44% will die as a result of this disease.
[box type=”shadow”]Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It is as common in women as it is in men. Although a leading cause of cancer death, if detected early, colorectal cancer can be more easily and successfully treated.[/box]
Alaska Natives and American Indians, African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer and less likely to be diagnosed in early, more easily treated stages of the disease than non-Hispanic Whites.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both African-American men and women.
COLORECTAL CANCER PREVENTION
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
- If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks if you’re a man.
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help you get and stay healthy.
- Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.
- The number one thing you can do is get screened. Early Detection is the key–Ask your Doctor!
COLORECTAL SCREENING SAVES LIVES
All tests can detect colorectal cancer early, and some of them can also find pre-cancers. With certain types of diagnostic tests, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous.
TIP: If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, start getting screened at age 50. If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and be screened more often. The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms!
So turn over a new leaf this spring. Make healthy lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. And talk to your health care professional about your personal risk factors and when a screening may be appropriate. Don’t let your health March on by!