March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Colorectal cancer is cancer that affects the colon or the rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in cancers that affect both men and women. The CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that every year around 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 people die from it.
During the month of March we try to raise awareness of the seriousness and prevalence of colon cancer and educate on the importance of doing what we can do to lower the risk of developing colon cancer. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of developing colon cancer. The chance of developing colon cancer increases with age. More than 90% of cases of colorectal cancer are found in people over the age of 50. Getting a colonoscopy can save lives but many people are not following national guidelines regarding colorectal cancer screenings.
If you are 50 years or older it is important to have a screening colonoscopy. A screening colonoscopy will help to discover precancerous colon polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancerous polyps. A screening colonoscopy also helps to find colon or rectal cancer in the early stages when treatment often leads to a cure. Precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer do not always produce symptoms, especially early in the disease. Because you may not have symptoms that you alert you to the chance of colorectal cancer it is important to have colonoscopies as recommended by your physician.