March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer for short.
Colorectal cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is highly effective. In the most difficult cases – when the cancer has spread to the liver, lungs or other sites – treatment can help make surgery an option for many, as well as prolonging and adding to one’s quality of life.
What are the risk factors?
Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. Other risk factors include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- A personal family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or heredity non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
What can I do?
- If you’re 50 to 70 years old, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. If you’re younger than 50 and think you may be at high risk of getting colorectal cancer, or if you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should be screened.
- Be physically active.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol.
- Don’t smoke.
For more information on colorectal cancer, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Call (619) 515-2300 to make an appointment and get screened today.