March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is common in men and women and is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Many colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Polyps may not cause any symptoms, especially early on, and can be present for many years before they become cancerous.  Screening can detect precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. Other risk factors include having inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, and inherited genetic syndromes.

Factors related to lifestyle that can increase your risk include a lack of physical activity, a poor diet low in fruits and vegetables and low in fiber, a diet high in fats and red, charred, and processed meats. Alcohol and tobacco use are also linked to colorectal cancer. You can possibly lower your risk of colorectal cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and increasing your physical activity.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control)