Colorectal cancer is the most common cause of cancer death. Now, it is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, because of historical changes in risk factors such as smoking and red meat consumption and increased use of aspirin.
1. What Is Colorectal Cancer
This type of cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.
2. Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Some people with colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer do have symptoms. They may include.
• Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
• Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away.
• Losing weight and you don’t know why.
• Bleeding from the rectum
• Dark or black stools
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer. However, the only way to know is to see your doctor.
3. Who Gets Colorectal Cancer
• Both men and women can get it.
• It is most often found in people 50 or older.
• The risk increases with age.
4. Are You at Increased Risk
Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if
• You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
• You have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
• You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. People at increased risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often you should be tested.
5. Types of Screening Tests
The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. If you are aged 76-85, ask your doctor if you should be screened. Several different screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer.
6. Screening Saves Lives
Also, is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are 50 or older, getting a colorectal cancer screening test could save your life. Here’s how.
• It usually starts from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there.
• Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
• Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
• Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
7. Which Test is Right for You
There is no single “best test” for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about which test or tests are right for you and how often you should be screened.
8. Can Start With No Symptoms
Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. This means that someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important.