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In the Spotlight: Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Early Detection

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in the U.S. among men and women. It’s essential to understand its signs, symptoms, and risk factors to catch it early and get the necessary help. Let’s explore what colorectal cancer is, who it impacts, risk factors, and what to do if you suspect you have it.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, which are parts of the digestive system. It begins as small growths called polyps and can grow over time if not treated.

What are the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?

  • Changes in Bowel Habits: If you notice changes in how often you go to the bathroom or how your stool looks, such as blood in your stool or persistent diarrhea or constipation, it’s essential to pay attention and speak to a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Abdominal Discomfort: You might feel constant cramps, gas, bloating, or pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Feeling tired all the time, even after resting, could be a sign.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: If you’re losing weight without trying, it’s essential to find out why.

Who does colorectal cancer impact?

Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, and ethnicity. Although it’s more common in older adults, this disease is on the rise in people aged 45-49 years old. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms, as early detection can save lives.

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What are the risk factors?

  • Age: The risk of colorectal cancer increases as you get older.
  • Family History: If someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, you might be at higher risk. However, about 75% of people who have colorectal cancer have no family history of the disease.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle: Eating large amounts of red meat, not getting enough exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol can increase your risk.
  • Certain Health Conditions: Having conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or certain genetic syndromes can also raise your risk.

What are the screening options?

It is recommended that adults aged 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer, including some that can be done at home. Talk to your primary care provider about your screening options and be sure to mention if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms included above. Learn more from Memorial Oncologist Dr. Pamela Tuli in her recent interview.

Dr. Tuli explains colorectal cancer signs and symptoms as well as screening options

Remember, finding colorectal cancer early gives you the best chance of beating it. Find a Memorial primary care provider – click the button below. 

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