In observance of National Cancer Prevention Month, Pella Regional Health Center is reminding the public about the importance of talking to their healthcare provider about their risks for colorectal cancer and prevention measures.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women. However, each person’s risk might be higher or lower, depending on their risk factors for colorectal cancer:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being physically active
- Diets high in red meat and processed meats
- Alcohol use
- A personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Having an inherited syndrome
- Being of African American or Jews of Eastern European decent
- Having type 2 diabetes
Colorectal cancer might not cause symptoms right away, but if it does, it may cause one or more of these symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States. But the death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) of colorectal cancer has been dropping for several decades. One reason for this is that colorectal polyps are now more often found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers.
Unfortunately, about 1 in 3 people in the US who should get tested for colorectal cancer have never been screened. This may be because they don’t know that regular testing could save their lives from this disease, or due to things like cost and health insurance coverage issues.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start colorectal cancer screening before age 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests.
To talk with your provider about colorectal cancer screenings at Pella Regional Health Center, call 641-621-2200 or go to https://www.pellahealth.org/request-an-appointment/.