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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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Among cancers that affect both men and women, Colorectal cancer  is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. But this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50.

Fast Facts

  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
  • Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important.

If you have symptoms, they may include:

  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement)
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor. Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer.

There are several screening test options:

  • Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every three years).

Information from Dr. Xavier Llor; Gastroenterologist, Yale New Haven Hospital/Med. Dir., Colorectal Cancer Prevention At Yale Univ. School Of Medicine/Digestive Diseases, Smilow Cancer Center