Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way of Your Health
March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Ask yourself this: Would you rather risk having a life-threatening cancer or undergo a simple procedure? The answer seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Despite this basic truth, only one in three adults are actually getting screened for colon cancer, which, when discovered early, is highly treatable.
Cancer of the colon or rectum is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death, taking more than 50,000 lives per year. Here’s the good news—there are currently more than one million survivors living today thanks to tests like the colonoscopy, a simple and safe procedure that only needs to be done every 10 years. There is also a stool test which can be done at home and mailed to our lab or dropped off at your AltaMed clinic. It’s that easy. Check with your provider to see which one is best for you.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 140,000 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed a year. Because its physical symptoms are often silent, many of these individuals were completely unaware of the changes taking place in their bodies. That’s why screenings that can detect polyps are essential. You should contact your primary care physician immediately, however, if you experience persistent stomach pains, aches and cramps, unexplained weight loss or blood in your stool.
Six out of 10 deaths could be prevented with proper testing, so pay attention to the following risk factors and talk to your PCP to see if it’s time for you to get screened:
- 50 years of age or older (90 percent of cases)
- Family history of polyps or colon cancer
- Diet high in red meat and fat, low in calcium, folate and fiber, and low in fruits and vegetables
- Inactive lifestyle (daily physical activity can reduce risk by 5 percent)
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol use
- Inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease