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Colorectal Cancer 101

Today in the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women are at risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Colorectal cancer is in the top four most common diagnosed cancer in men and women in the United States.   However, over the past several decades there has been a decrease in death rates thanks to new treatments and increased colorectal cancer screenings.
What is colorectal cancer?  Colorectal cancer is cancer that begins in the colon or rectum and grows out of control.  The inner lining of the colon or rectum can have growths happen, which can become cancer.  These growths can form into the wall of the colon or rectum over time, which can then enter into blood vessels.  The blood vessels can then transport the cancer to lymph nodes or distant parts of the body and spread.
What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?  There are risk factors for colorectal cancer that are out of one’s control.  These include age, history of colorectal polyps or cancer, history of inflammatory bowel disease, having a family history or type 2 diabetes.  Then there are risk factors that can be addressed such as weight, physical inactivity, diet, smoking and heavy alcohol use.
What tests are done to diagnose colorectal cancer?  Currently there are screening tests available for individuals starting at age 45 who are at risk of colorectal cancer.  There are then yearly screenings available to those continuing through the age of 75.  There are several testing options available for colorectal screening.  These include stool-based tests, and visual exams of the colon such as colonoscopies.
March is recognized nationally as colorectal cancer awareness month.  Check out the American Cancer Society website for additional information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and side effects, getting involved in colorectal cancer awareness and more!
Source:  https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html

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