It's March - National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Cancer Society wants you to be up to date on your screening.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. when men and women are combined, and regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer. Screening can often find colorectal cancer early, when it's small, hasn't spread, and might be easier to treat.
Many people don’t realize that the American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk be screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45. Those at increased risk may need to be screened earlier. It's important to get screened even if you don't have symptoms because you could have a polyp or a small growth in your colon or rectum. Right now it may be harmless, but over time it could develop into cancer.
Colorectal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms until it is advanced, and recent data show the number of new cases of colorectal cancer is increasing in younger populations. When colorectal cancer is found early, before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%.
Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 23 (4.4%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.1%) for women. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men. A number of other factors (described in Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors) can also affect your risk for developing colorectal cancer.
And, don’t forget, there are several screening options available, including simple take-home options. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best screening option for you and visit cancer.org for more information.