March is Colorectal Cancer Prevention Month!

Colorectal Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Colorectal Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Every year in America, approximately 133,000 cases of colorectal cancers are diagnosed. They are the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country, accounting for over 50,000 per year. A lot of risk factors are out of any individual’s control, but some healthy lifestyle choices do reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Early detection and timely intervention is key to successful treatment.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

  • Being over 50 years old
  • A family history of colorectal cancer (especially affecting close relatives)
  • A previous occurrence of colorectal cancer, high-risk polyps, or ovarian cancer
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Being overweight
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Having a daily average of 3 or more alcoholic drinks
  • Certain genetic mutations

How to Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

  • Exercise for at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Keep red meat consumption to a minimum
  • Take a daily aspirin (but not without consulting your doctor)
  • Surgically remove potentially pre-cancerous colorectal polyps
  • Quit smoking—or never start
  • Drink little to no alcohol

Encouraging Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer

  • Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and an appropriate screening schedule
  • For those at average risk, start having polyp and tumor screenings at 50, including colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests, and sigmoidoscopies
  • For those at elevated risk, consult your doctor about the right time to start screenings (often recommended at 35 or 40)

Cancer Resource Directory

If you or a loved one has cancer, visit our resource directory for help accessing treatment, care, or survivorship support.

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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.

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