Are you 45+ years old? If so, have you been screened for colorectal cancer? Are you under 45 years old and have family or medical history that puts you at risk for developing colorectal cancer?
Did you know that screening for colorectal cancer can help find precancerous polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer?
Colorectal cancer, previously known as an older person’s disease, is on the rise in rates among people under 50. In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says that the disease has been steadily increasing over the past 30 to 50 years in younger adults. While the exact reason for the increase in risk is unknown, there are various possible explanations. Factors such as obesity, sedentary behavior, genetic links, increase in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), poor diet, alcohol, diabetes, Chrohn’s disease, and other environmental factors may play a role in increased rates of early onset colorectal cancer.
If you are a young adult (under 45) you need to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of colorectal cancer and how important it is to take this disease seriously. If you are 45+ and you haven’t been screened this year, contact your primary care physician to sit up your screening. If you are uninsured or underinsured go to uhru.org and find one of our partner clinics that offer free colorectal cancer screenings for you.
Should I get screened?
If you are 45+ you should be getting screened yearly.
If you are under the age 45 look at your medical history and your family’s history for certain conditions. For example, if you have a family history with two first-degree relatives with colorectal cancer you should begin screening early. You may need to be screened earlier and more often if you have risk factors like polyps, abdominal radiation for cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, certain hereditary syndromes, or family history of certain polyps or colorectal cancer. If you are concerned about your family history and medical history, talk to your doctor about when you should start screening for colorectal cancer.
Are there any preventive measures I could take to reduce my risk of getting colorectal cancer?
Screening is the best preventative for colorectal cancer.
Other ways you can reduce your risk is through regular exercise, avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding processed food, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Knowing the symptoms of colorectal cancer is an important tool to identify if you need to be screened under the age 45. Remember if you are 45+ you need to be screened yearly.
Colorectal cancer might not cause symptoms right away. In fact, many of the symptoms of colorectal cancer can also be caused by other problems, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease.
It's important to get checked if you have any of the following problems. In many cases, people who have these symptoms do not have cancer. But you should talk to your doctor if you have any of them so the cause can be found and treated.
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 is not relieved by having one
Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
Weakness and fatigue
Losing weight without trying
Often colorectal cancer doesn’t cause symptoms until it has grown or spread. That’s why it’s best to be tested for colorectal cancer before ever having any symptoms. Colorectal cancer that’s found early through screening, before you have symptoms, might be easier to treat. Screening can even prevent some colorectal cancers by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths called polyps.
If you are 45+ get screened yearly! If you are under 45 talk to your doctor about your family history and medical history to decide when screening should take place.
No matter your age or family history, remember to take care of your wellness.