Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In 2000, President Bill Clinton dedicated the month of March as National Colorectal Cancer Month. During this month, we rally together in order to provide support for patients, survivors, and advocates around the country. Wear blue! Hold a fundraiser! Educate! Don’t assume that everyone knows about colorectal cancer. It’s key to take this time to raise awareness about Colorectal Cancer to our communities.

Colorectal Cancer Overview

Colorectal Cancer is cancer that begins in the rectum or colon. It begins with polyps in either the rectum or the colon that can change to cancer over time. From there, it spreads, growing into blood or lymph vessels, traveling to lymph nodes, and attacking other more distant parts of the body.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include a persistent change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, weakness and fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely. In the early stages of colon or rectum cancer, one may not experience these signs. As cancer grows, they vary and are largely dependant on the cancer’s size and location.

Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer

There are many risk factors that contribute to colorectal cancer. These include:

  • Age – Those who are diagnosed are typically over age 50.
  • Race – African-Americans have a greater risk of colorectal cancer than people of other races.
  • Personal or family history of cancer or polyps.
  • A history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s
  • A low fiber, high fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking
  • Radiation therapy for cancers in the abdominal region
  • Colorectal Cancer Treatment & Prevention

    While you can’t completely prevent colorectal cancer, there are a variety of ways to reduce your risk including maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, drinking in moderation, and quitting smoking.
    Treatment for colorectal cancer includes surgery in the early stages including removal of polyps, endoscopic resection, and laparoscopic surgery. At its midpoint stages, you might need a partial colectomy, creation of a way for waste to leave your body, or lymph node removal to treat colon or rectum cancer. In colorectal cancer’s most advanced state, treatment includes targeted drug therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and supportive care.

    The best way to maintain your health is to schedule appointments with your doctor. Right down your symptoms and any personal information including a list of your medications. Knowing is half the battle. Make sure that you are taking all of the steps necessary to get an early diagnosis as that is the key to protecting yourself.