March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Nearly 148,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, and is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States.

The month of March has been proclaimed National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening. Screening and early detection can also help discover colorectal cancer when it’s small, hasn’t spread and might be easier to treat.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk start colorectal cancer screening at age 45. Some people may be at higher risk based on their family history and other risk factors and might need to start testing earlier. Warning signs of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, dark or brown stool; change in bowel habits; diarrhea and/or constipation; narrowing of stool; persistent abdominal discomfort; anemia; unexplained weight loss; weakness or fatigue; and nausea or vomiting.

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 (4.4%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.1%) for women, said the American Cancer Society. The risk of contracting colorectal cancer increases with age. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are age 50 or older, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, individuals with inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, or a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

“Colorectal Cancer Awareness in the African American Community” is the topic on the upcoming “Dr. In The House with Dr. Terry Mason” segment on WVON 1690 AM on Sunday, March 1, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The program is aired the first Sunday of each month. Scheduled guests are colon cancer survivor Candace Henley, co-principal investigator for the UI Cancer Center’s Patient Brigade and founder of the Blue Hat Foundation, an organization that spreads awareness about colon cancer and empowers cancer survivors; and Keith Naylor, MD, UI Cancer Center member and assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at UI Health. Karriem Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, associate director of community outreach and engagement at the UI Cancer Center, hosts the program with Mason.

Learn more about colorectal cancer here:

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