Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer for both men and women. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of these deaths could be prevented if everyone over the age of 50 was screened for colorectal cancer.
The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer. If left undiagnosed or undetected, colorectal cancer can spread throughout the body.
Reducing Your Risk
Many people who are at risk for the disease are not being screened according to national guidelines. It is estimated that as many as 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. These tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective.
Maintaining a healthy diet low in processed foods, especially processed meats and high in fiber, through fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can lower your risk. In addition, researchers are examining the role of certain medications and supplements, including aspirin, calcium, vitamin D, and selenium, in preventing colorectal cancer. While these supplements may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, the most effective way to reduce your risk is by having regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50 or sooner depending on your family or personal history.
When Should You Begin to Get Screened?
You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, and then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier or more often than other people if:
• You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; or
• You have inflammatory bowel disease.
If you are aged 50 or older, or think you may be at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about getting screened.
What Are the Screening Tests for Colorectal Cancer?
Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Some are used alone; others are used in combination with each other. Talk with your doctor about which test or tests are best for you.
• Colonoscopy (every 10 years).
• High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) (every year).
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years).
During Colorectal Cancer Month, Murray-Calloway County Hospital encourages our community to raise awareness about colorectal cancer by wearing blue on Friday, March 3. The hospital will join thousands of Americans nationwide in celebrating Dress in Blue Day by asking all employees to wear blue to work and encouraging community members to do the same. The hospital will also recognize Colorectal Cancer Month by providing educational material on display in the cafeteria, North Tower and South Tower at MCCH, at Murray State and the Weaks Senior Citizen Center on Friday, March 3, and offering “blue plate specials” in the cafeteria to create additional awareness.
On March 17 at 9 am, an educational seminar “Caring for Your Colon” will be held at the Center for Health and Wellness and is open to the community.
For more information on National Colorectal Cancer Month, contact the MCCH Marketing Department at (270) 762-1381 or our Health Promotions Dept. at (270) 762-1832.