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Last updated 5 years ago

March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it is important to be knowledgeable in order to protect yourself and loved ones.  Colon cancer affects both men and woman and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The risk increases with age. If everyone over 50 years old was regularly screened, 60% of deaths from colon cancer could be prevented.  Screenings can find precancerous polyps that can be removed before turning into cancer, as well as detect early stages of cancer to increase treatment effectiveness.

While most precancerous polyps and the early stages of colorectal cancer may not manifest itself with symptoms, it is important to know the symptoms that may be correlated:

  • Blood in stool
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away
  • Weight loss for seemingly no reason

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Being over 50 years of age
  • Diet rich in fat, red meat, or processed foods
  • Smoking or exposure to second hand smoke
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Personal or family history of precancerous polyps or colon cancer
  • Genetic syndromes, such as adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer

There are several screening tests available. Talk to your doctor about which is right for you:

  • Colonoscopy – every 10 years
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – once a year
  • Sigmoidoscopy – every 5 years

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here, and to schedule a screening at Saddleback Memorial click here.

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