Observe Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by Getting Screened Today!

March is a significant month for health advocacy as it marks National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This observance serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding, preventing, and detecting colorectal cancer. As the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States*, raising awareness about colorectal cancer is crucial in saving lives through early detection and prevention measures.

Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer affects the colon or rectum, which are parts of the digestive system. While it can occur at any age, the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, with the majority of cases diagnosed in individuals over 50. However, it’s essential to note that colorectal cancer isn’t exclusive to older adults, as cases among younger adults have been rising in recent years.

Importance of Screening

Screening for colorectal cancer is imperative because it can detect precancerous polyps or early-stage cancer when treatment is most effective. Several screening methods are available, including colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), fecal immunochemical tests (FIT), and stool DNA tests. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening beginning at age 45 for individuals at average risk.**

Concerns and Risk Factors

Various factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, including a family history of the disease, certain genetic conditions, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), a diet high in red and processed meats, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Being aware of these risk factors can help individuals take proactive steps toward prevention and early detection.

Prevention and Healthy Habits

While some risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as age and genetics, are beyond anyone’s control, there are several lifestyle changes individuals can make to lower their risk. Adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting red and processed meats can significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight also play key roles in prevention.

Regular Check-ups and Awareness

Regular visits to healthcare providers are essential for monitoring overall health and discussing any concerns or symptoms. Being proactive about discussing colorectal cancer screening with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re at increased risk, is crucial. By prioritizing regular screenings and maintaining open communication with your doctor, you can take charge of your colorectal health and increase your chances of early detection and successful treatment.

As we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this March, it’s important to remember to take proactive steps towards colorectal health by talking with your physician about your risk factors, adopting healthy habits, scheduling a screening and encouraging loved ones to do the same. For more information or to make an appointment today, contact our Gastroenterology Division in Poughkeepsie (845-471-9410), Fishkill (845-471-9410) and New Windsor (845-562-0740).