March has been designated as Colorectal Awareness Month by the American Cancer Society. According to the Centers of Disease Control, or CDC – colorectal cancer, which affects both men and women, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Each year about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Of those, more than 50,000 will end up dying from causes related to the disease.
The good news is that colorectal cancer is a highly preventable disease because screenings can detect precancerous polyps, which can then be removed before they can transition to cancer. Colorectal cancer is most treatable in the early stages and can also be detected by routine colorectal screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings for people between the ages of 50-75. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age and colorectal cancer may not present with many symptoms, or not in ways you might suspect.
How to Reduce Your Risk
- Eat a diet full of colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains and leafy greens. Cut down on red meat and processed meats that contain nitrates. Diets lower in meat and higher in grains and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise such as walking lowers your risk of colorectal cancer.
- Watch your waistline as well; being overweight raises your risk.
- Do not use tobacco products. If you do use tobacco, stop now. Quitting will improve your odds of not getting colorectal cancer (and other cancers) or surviving it if you do.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Colorectal cancer has a strong link to drinking more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. (A single drink = 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1½ ounces of “hard” liquor.)
- Follow your doctor’s recommendation for regular scheduled screenings.
Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives
The truth is that no one looks forward to a colonoscopy. There are newer tests that are available or becoming available as more research and development is being done. Even with newer, less invasive testing, though, other, traditional screenings may be required as per the advice of your doctor.
Regular screenings save lives, but they can’t help if you do not get screened. Testing has saved millions of lives. Yours could be one of them. If you, or a loved one needs to be screened or treated for colorectal cancer, or to find out more, please call your Intercoastal Medical Group physician today or request an appointment online. Intercoastal Medical Group: dedicated to providing quality healthcare to the Sarasota and Manatee County areas.