March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which is an important time to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of colorectal health. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the US. With proper screening and early detection, the disease is highly treatable.
Often referred to as colon cancer, colorectal cancer affects the colon and rectum. It can occur at any age but is more common in people over the age of 50. Unfortunately, colorectal cancer does not always show visible or noticeable symptoms. It’s why screening regularly is so important.
Anyone can develop colorectal cancer, but there are certain risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. These risk factors include age, family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of colorectal cancer, smoking, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Colorectal cancer is typically diagnosed using a colonoscopy, an exam used to detect abnormalities in the colon. During a colonoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera is inserted into the rectum. This allows the doctor to examine the inside of the colon.
The doctor then takes samples of any suspicious tissue for further testing. Other tests used to diagnose colorectal cancer include sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, CT scans, and X-rays.
Colorectal cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, including changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, fatigue, abdominal pain, and unintended weight loss. Unfortunately, other conditions may also cause these symptoms, so if you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor.
The treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage the cancer is in when it’s detected. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. It is important to speak to your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Getting screened regularly and making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing the disease is the best way to prevent the disease. Some of the lifestyle changes you can make include:
- Eating a balanced diet low in fat and high in fiber.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Avoiding smoking.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol intake.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
Additionally, it is important to speak to your doctor about any potential risk factors you may have, such as a family history of colorectal cancer. You may need more regular screening if there is a family history.
At Arizona Colorectal Experts, our team of experienced colorectal surgeons is committed to providing high-quality care to our patients. We specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a variety of colorectal conditions.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of colorectal cancer or would like to schedule a screening, please contact us today to make an appointment. We will work to create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.