March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer, which forms in the colon or rectum, is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. Equally common in both men and women, this is a very treatable cancer, if caught in an early stage.
Colorectal cancer prevention begins with making healthy lifestyle choices. Excess weight, excessive consumption of alcohol and eating a diet containing large amounts of red or processed meat all increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. By making the following lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and maintain better overall health.
• Maintain a proper, balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
• Reduce or eliminate red and processed meats
• Commit to regular exercise; 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week is recommended
• Eliminate unhealthy habits, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, receiving proper screenings can detect colorectal cancer early, increasing the chance of successful treatment. For those with an average risk, screening should begin at age 50 and should be continued until age 75, at which point a physician should decide whether or not to continue screenings. Screening options should be discussed with your physician, but may include:
|Colonoscopy||Recommended every 10 years|
|Virtual colonoscopy||Recommended every 5 years|
|Flexible sigmoidoscopy||Recommended every 5 years|
It is important to discuss screening options with your physician, as recommendations vary from person to person. Family history, as well as many other factors, may impact your risk level and screening needs. Talk with your physician about the best screening options and lifestyle choices for you.