Updated: Mar 5
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates the number of new colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2021 will be around 104,270 and at least 45,230 people may be diagnosed with rectal cancer (American Cancer Society, 2021). We can decrease the number of people who die from colon or rectal cancer if more people get screened with a colonoscopy or with the newer at-home test called Cologuard.
If you are 45 years of age or older, make sure you get screened for colon cancer. African Americans should get tested earlier than 45 years of age, due to a higher incidence of colon cancer among the African-American population. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you will need to make sure you do not miss screenings and may need to be screened more often. Please do not skip your cancer screenings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many medical facilities have implemented safety precautions, to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus to their patients.
Did you know that reducing your consumption of red meat, pork, and lamb can help to lower your colon cancer risk? According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a plant-based diet can significantly decrease your chances of getting colorectal cancer (JAMA, 2015). A plant-based diet provides extra beneficial nutrients, which includes folate, calcium, and fiber, which does not promote the growth of polyps (JAMA, 2015). You can also take proactive steps to reduce your risk from getting colon cancer by eating a colorful selection of fruits, beans, and vegetables, exercising, managing your weight, quitting smoking, and lowering your alcohol intake (American Cancer Society, 2020).
Remember, you are your best health advocate. Listen to your body, pay attention to changes in your stool including long bouts of constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, stomach cramping, and unintended weight loss. Please do not be afraid to discuss bowel changes with your primary care doctor. Take some time to learn more about colon cancer by reviewing the American Cancer Society’s latest news feature on their website.
Be well and make sure the people you love also get tested for colon cancer!
American Cancer Society. Deaths from Colorectal Cancer. (February, 2021). Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors. (February 21, 2018). Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html
American Cancer Society. Latest News on Colorectal Cancer. (March
2, 2021). Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).