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Make March the month to learn about colorectal cancer

Make March the month to learn about colorectal cancer
When you think of March, it may conjure up thoughts of changes – changing weather as we transition from winter to spring; changing time, as many embrace daylight savings; and changing moods, as we begin to think of warmer days and outdoor activities again. But, if you are 45 years old or older March is also a good time to learn more about colorectal cancer and your risks of developing this common disease.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women combined. While it’s important to think about your health all year, March is specially designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and brings awareness to this disease and the value of accessing life-saving resources that prevent, detect, and treat it.

“Colorectal cancer is generally slow-growing and responds well to treatment if detected early,” explained Darryl Fernandes, MD, general and colorectal surgeon and part of the new multidisciplinary colorectal cancer team at Carle Cancer Institute Normal. “Depending on age, personal history and family history there are different screening options available to patients.”

Screening for colorectal cancer has been on the rise in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, the increase in screening has led to a 30% decrease in the past decade in colon cancers mortality rate in people older than 50.

The more thorough the colon cancer screening test, the more likely it is to detect any cancer or precancerous polyps. If you have an increased risk of colon cancer, your doctor might recommend more frequent colon cancer screening with colonoscopy, but less invasive choices can be all that is needed depending on your situation and family history.

“If cancer is found, patients meet with a full care team from one of our multidisciplinary clinics in Normal or Urbana and together develop an individualized cancer treatment plan after carefully considering cancer treatment options,” Dr. Fernandes said.

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends you talk to your doctor about your colon cancer risk if you:
  • Have a personal history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps
  • Have a parent, sibling, or child who has had colon cancer
  • Carry a gene for hereditary colon cancer syndrome
  • Have a history of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
Use the month of March to commit to changing old habits that may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer like smoking, eating diets high in red and processed meats, and overindulging in alcohol. Instead, make it a point to stay active, eat more vegetables, and consult with your doctor about your colon cancer screening options. Remember, the earlier colon cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Contact your primary care provider today.
 

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: Bloomington-Normal, Cancer, Champaign-Urbana, Colorectal Cancer, , Gastrointestinal

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Make March the month to learn about colorectal cancer