Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer of men and women combined, but it doesn’t have to be. Screening helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum and overtime, some may turn into cancer. Screening tests can find these polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer.
What are the risk factors?
Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age – more than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years or older. Other risk factors include:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- A personal family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
As with many other cancers, lifestyle factors may also contribute to an increase risk, those include:
- Lack of regular physical activity
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- A low fiber and high-fat diet
- Being obese or overweight
- Alcohol consumption and tobacco use
What are the symptoms?
Colorectal cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why getting screened regularly is so important. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Blood in or on your stool
- Stomach pains, aches, or cramps that won’t go away
- Losing weight and you don’t know why.
What should I know about colorectal screening?
Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. The USPSTF recommends that adults age 76 to 85 ask their doctor if they should be screened. There are several screening tests that can be used, talk to you doctor about which one of the following tests are right for you:
- Stool tests
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
- CT Colonography
Maine Cancer Foundation is determined to reduce the incidence and mortality rate of cancer in Maine, and we are doing so by focusing on prevention, screening and access to care. In 2017, MCF granted $444,025 in colorectal screening programs across the state.