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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Providence is offering resources to learn more about cancer prevention, and colon and rectal cancer (CRC).
The average lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is 5%, but you may be more likely to develop it if you have certain risk factors.
Providence is actively working to bring colorectal cancer screenings to at-risk communities.
You may be seeing cancer survivors and their families wearing a lot of blue this month. That’s because March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and blue is the official color used to show support for colorectal cancer patients and increase awareness of this potentially life-threatening disease.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, behind breast cancer and lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 106,970 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in 2023, and 46,050 new cases of rectal cancer. While those numbers may seem large, they have dropped significantly in recent years as awareness of colorectal cancer is on the rise, with more people getting screened and lowering their risk factors.
At Providence, one of our biggest priorities is preventing and fighting cancer. We have assembled a top-level team of colorectal cancer experts, healthcare providers and cancer researchers, who are helping our patients fight the disease with every weapon in our arsenal. Here’s a round-up of articles we have published recently about how to recognize colorectal cancer, how to treat it and what we’re doing to help.
Are you at risk for colorectal cancer?
In the United States, the average lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is 5%. Your cancer risk is higher if you:
- Have had colon polyps (precancerous polyps) removed
- Have an inherited condition that causes colorectal cancer
- Smoke, are obese or overweight, or don’t exercise
- Are over age 50
- Are African-American
- Have inflammatory bowel disease
But you can lower your risk by getting screened, losing weight and stopping smoking.
Four steps to prevent colorectal cancer
While you can’t change your age or family history, if you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, you can still take other steps to lower that risk. Here, we offer four ways you can be proactive in your digestive health.
Warning signs for GI diseases
Many gastrointestinal (GI) diseases share some of the same symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blood in your stool or vomit
If you frequently experience any of these symptoms, you may have a disease such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Or, you could have something more serious like colorectal cancer.
Remember to get your colonoscopy
It’s a fact: Early detections and regular screenings are changing lives. Colonoscopies, in particular, have helped people detect colorectal cancer much sooner than years ago, so they have a better chance of treating it. Learn about several important screenings you should stay on top of, including colonoscopies.
Screening guidelines have changed
While colorectal cancer rates have decreased overall, they have actually increased in people under age 50. As a result, experts now recommend that both men and women start undergoing screening colonoscopies at age 45. Have a conversation with your doctor about whether you should have a colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer screenings in at-risk communities
It shouldn’t matter where you live — everyone should have access to lifesaving colorectal cancer screenings. The Stand Up to Cancer Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, with support from Providence, is working to educate at-risk communities about their risk for this type of cancer and how they can take action. Team members are also staying by the side of those diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
The care team at Providence is ready to help you, whether you need a colonoscopy screening or you think you may have symptoms of colorectal cancer. The sooner you identify a problem, the easier it will be to treat. So wear blue this month and follow up with your doctor about whether you should be getting a screening!
Find a doctor
If you are looking for a primary care doctor, a gastroenterologist or an oncologist, you can search for one that’s right for you in our provider directory.
Download the Providence App
We’re with you, wherever you are. Make Providence’s app your personalized connection to your health. Schedule appointments, conduct virtual visits, message your doctor, view your health records and more. Learn more and download the app.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.
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