Reducing your risk for colorectal cancer with preventive screenings
Learn about colorectal cancer and the importance of preventive screenings.
Not including skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men and women combined, according to the American Cancer Society.
Even more, about one-third of people in the US who should be tested for colorectal cancer haven’t ever been screened. It can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it’s important to talk to your loved ones about colorectal cancer and getting screened.
Keep reading to learn more about colorectal cancer and preventive screenings.
Colorectal cancer risk factors
Some modifiable lifestyle factors can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer, including:
- Diets high in meat and low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Excessive drinking
- Physical inactivity
Other uncontrollable factors, such as family or personal history of colon cancer, rectal cancer and adenomatous polyps, may also put someone at greater risk.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer
In most cases, colorectal cancer can occur in adults without any detectable symptoms, making expert diagnoses even more critical to your health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, there are some symptoms or warning signs of colorectal cancer that every adult should know:
- Bright red, black or tarry blood in stool
- Consistent fatigue feelings
- Constipation, diarrhea or a feeling of having an unemptied bowel
- Discomfort in the abdominal area, including:
- Frequent gas pains
- Unexpected weight loss
- Unusually narrow stools
Screening for colorectal cancer
Early preventive screening is the most effective way to catch colorectal cancer at its early stages when the most treatment options are available. Colorectal screening is considered a free preventive measure under most insurance providers and is typically covered at no cost to the patient.
Previously, colorectal cancer screening was only recommended for people age 50 and older. However, those recommendations have been adjusted to address increasing incidences of colorectal cancer appearing in younger age groups. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for colorectal cancer and when you should be screened.
The American Cancer Society recommends screening for men and women with average risks as early as 45 years old. This may include:
- Fecal occult blood test
- Virtual colonoscopy
- DNA stool test
Preventive screenings are key to maintaining good health. This not only includes colorectal cancer screenings but also tests such as blood pressure screenings and skin cancer checks. Find out which screenings are recommended for you.