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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. It's Time to Take Care of YourselfMarch 2, 2023
Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in both men and women over 45? Knowing the facts about early diagnosis and treatment, as well having conversations with your family or primary care doctor about screenings, are two important steps you can take to help reduce risk.
Tips to lower your risk
Living a healthy lifestyle can help decrease your chances of developing colorectal cancer. This includes taking steps like:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Maintaining a balanced diet that includes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting processed meats
Additionally, if you have family members diagnosed with colorectal cancer or certain inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (especially over age 45), be aware that this could put you at greater risk - so take extra care!
Know the signs and symptoms
Some common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Feeling tired
- Having a change in weight
- Bloating/gas/constipation/diarrhea lasting more than 4 weeks
- Blood in your stool (which may look like black tarry stools)
- Rectal bleeding
If you have any of these symptoms that last more than 4 weeks, it is important to consult your family doctor or primary care physician.
Screenings play an important role in the detection of colorectal cancer
Talk with your doctor about which is the best colorectal cancer screening for you. Tests that are used to examine the inside of the large intestine (colon) and rectum, tests that can detect hidden blood in the stool, or screenings that can identify genetic changes in the cells of the colon could all be possibilities, depending on your age and other individual risk factors.
Take control of your colorectal health
Your family doctor or primary care physician can help you understand your risk factors and what you can do to protect yourself from colorectal cancer. They can also provide guidance on when you should get screened. Don't wait until something is wrong to see your doctor – make sure you stay on top of your colorectal health and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're doing everything you can to protect yourself.