Schedule a Colonoscopy During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
April 19, 2021
You may know that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. You may have even heard of the Rumpshaker 5K, a popular race in Birmingham, Alabama, for raising awareness and funds to treat the disease. But do you know why raising awareness for this particular type of cancer is so important?
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is very treatable when it is discovered early. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is very effective.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., and the second leading cause of cancer death. It affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 years or older. However, incidence in those younger than 50 is on the rise.
In 2021, knowing these facts is more important than ever. As the U.S. grappled with COVID-19 last year, colorectal cancer screenings plummeted. Many appointments were cancelled and never rescheduled. Now is the time to refocus on colorectal health and make screenings a priority.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
You do not need to be experiencing symptoms to be screened for colorectal cancer. Every person who is around 45 years of age, or older, should have regular colonoscopies. If you have risk factors for colorectal cancer, you should start screenings even earlier.
Remember that colorectal cancer often first develops with few, if any, symptoms. The most common symptom is no symptom, which is why we call it the silent killer.
Here are symptoms that might be present that suggest a colorectal issue:
- Change in bowel habits, such as intermittent or constant diarrhea and/or constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool, or more narrow stools than usual
- Persistent abdominal discomfort that may present as cramps, gas, or pain; and/or feeling full, bloated, or a feeling like your bowel is not completely empty
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rectal bleeding, including blood in your stool that is bright red; or stool that is black and tarry or brick red
- Feeling weak or fatigued, which may be accompanied by anemia or a low red blood cell count
- Unexplained weight loss; or weight loss due to nausea or vomiting
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor who specializes in diseases of the colon and rectal as soon as possible. These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions, so proper diagnosis is crucial.
Why You Should Care About Colorectal Cancer -- Facts & Figures
While these statistics are not meant to be frightening, we do want everyone to understand just how common colorectal cancer really is. Education is our first line of defense against the disease. (These statistics are compiled from the American Cancer Society’s 2017 Cancer Facts & Figures and Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2017-2019.)
- Average lifetime risk for men = 1 in 23
- Average lifetime risk for women = 1 in 25
- Third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined in the U.S
- Second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S
- African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates
- 149,500 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
- 52,980 people will die from colorectal cancer
- Young onset will continue to rise
Research is constantly being done to learn more and provide resources for people in all colorectal cancer stages. We hope these estimates for 2021 will not be realized fully and the estimates in future years will go down.
One simple step everyone can take right now is scheduling a colonoscopy! Contact us to make an appointment or call 458-5000.
If you need to schedule a colonoscopy or other procedure, contact Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute today.
Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute specializes in treating diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. We are experts in performing colonoscopies, anorectal surgery, and minimally invasive colon surgery. Our three doctors are known regionally for their expertise in these areas. Visit our website for more information, give us a call to make an appointment at 458-5000, or email us at [email protected].