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Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the 4th most common cancer in men and women.  Fortunately, if it is caught early, it is often curable.

Men and women over the age of 50 are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Other risk factors include:

- Polyps - growths inside the colon and rectum that may become cancerous
- A diet that is high in fat
- A family history or personal history of colorectal cancer
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease

Symptoms can include blood in the stool, narrower stools, a change in bowel habits and general stomach discomfort.  However, you may not have any symptoms when the cancer first develops.  That is why it is important to get regular screenings if you are 50 years old or older.  

Colonoscopy is a common screening procedure.  Other screening methods are:  Fecal occult blood test. Sigmoidoscopy, Double-contrast barium enema, Digital rectal exam, and Virtual colonoscopy.


Local therapy: Surgery and radiation therapy are local therapies. They remove or destroy cancer in or near the colon or rectum.

Systemic therapy: Chemotherapy and biological therapy are systemic therapies. The drugs enter the bloodstream and destroy or control cancer throughout the body.

For more information, check out these links:

Colorectal Cancer (PDQ): Screening (National Cancer Institute)

Colorectal Cancer: Overview (American Cancer Society)

Colorectal Cancer (National Cancer Institute)

Get Tested for Colorectal Cancer (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)

What Is Colorectal Cancer? (American Cancer Society)

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