Dr. Lacie Edmison joined News13 NOW at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to talk about National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and the importance of being screened. Edmison is a gastroenterologist at McLeod Digestive Health Center Seacoast.
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 95,520 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer, 39,910 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer, and 50,260 will die from this disease.
Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most common in people age 50 and older. More facts and figures can be found on the Colorectal Cancer Alliance website.
Watch the video to learn more about colorectal cancer screening and why they are so important.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam) or colonoscopy.
Family history can often be an indicator of increased risk for colorectal cancer. Edmison said there are often no early signs or symptoms of the cancer. However, some signs or symptoms may include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which may make the stool look dark
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
There may also be some lifestyle factors that could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer:
- Avoid foods high in fat
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and other high-fiber foods
- Exercise regularly and maintaining a normal body weight
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Remind your doctor of regular colon cancer screenings
- Know your family history and talk to your doctor