According to the American Cancer Society, in 2014 about 136,830 people were predicted to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the US with about 50,310 people predicted to die of the disease.
In both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death. Colorectal cancer can affect people at an early age, such as 20’s or 30’s, if it runs in their family. Most commonly, however, the rate of being diagnosed with this disease increases after the age 50.
Colorectal cancer is a cancer found anywhere from the start of the colon to the end of the rectum. Most colorectal cancers begin as small polyps, which usually do not cause any symptoms. As the polyps grow, they can turn into cancer.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer include a change in bowel habits lasting over four weeks, blood present in the stool, gas, cramping, or abdominal pain, weakness, and weight loss.
What causes colorectal cancer? Some studies have shown that a diet high in fat and low in fiber leads to an increased risk in developing this cancer. Other risk factors include increasing age, history of polyps, history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and alcoholism. In some cases, colorectal cancer can be an inherited cancer found in families. This occurrence is called a Lynch syndrome, a diagnosis when multiple people on the same side of the family are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. In addition, with this syndrome cancer is more likely to be diagnosed at a young age.
Screening for colorectal cancer should start at age 50, or younger depending on family history. Ask your doctor to schedule you for a colonoscopy. If no polyps are found you won’t need another scope for 10 years! If a polyp is found, your doctor performing the scope should remove the polyp and you will likely be re-scoped in 3-5 years. Remember early detection equals CURE!