Colorectal Cancer Prevention: Your Action Plan

Are you at risk for colorectal cancer? 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people ages 50 and older.

“The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is that individuals of average risk screened regularly starting at age 50,” said Christine VanCott, MD, FACS, General/HPB Surgeon at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. “It’s important to get screened to detect both early cancer and precancerous polyps.”

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness and   a great opportunity to raise awareness for yourself, your family and your friends. Think about your own risk factors and those of the people you love, and remind them of the importance of regular screening. “People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer,” added VanCott. 

VanCott_Christine.jpg“You may be at higher risk if you are African American, have a sedentary lifestyle, are overweight, have a poor diet, smoke, or have a personal or family history of colon polyps and/or colorectal cancer.”

Christine VanCott, MD, FACS

Here are some fast facts on colorectal cancer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):  

Fast Facts

  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.

  • Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms,especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include:

    • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).

    • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.

    • Losing weight and you don’t know why.

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.

  • Some people are at a higher riskthan others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.

  • There are several screening test options.Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.

    • Colonoscopy (every 10 years).

    • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).

    • Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every three years).


Learn more about colorectal cancer prevention, detection and treatment: American Cancer Society

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