This blog post was written with Colorectal Cancer Alliance and with Danica Keeton, Director of Development and Community Relations, at Community Health Systems.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! During this important month Community Health Systems Inc. and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (the Alliance) urge everyone to speak with their providers and learn more about colorectal cancer symptoms, risk factors, screening options.
Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives.
An estimated 153,020 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 52,550 will die from it this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer is a term that includes colon cancer and rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest and fourth most common form of cancer in the U.S. Most colorectal cancers develop in people above age 50, but more than one in 10 diagnoses are in younger people. In fact, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer are rising.
But there is some good news! Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and is highly treatable when detected early. Most people should begin getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45, according to national guidelines. People at higher risk, including those with symptoms, a family history of colorectal cancer, and certain inherited genetic syndromes like Lynch Sydrome may need to get checked earlier. Everyone should speak with their healthcare provider about when and how to get checked.
At CHS, you can work with your Provider to determine which screenings are best for you. The Alliance also provides a free screening recommendation based on your individual risk factors at quiz.getscreened.org.
What about prevention?
To help prevent colorectal cancer or catch it early, when it’s most treatable, we recommend the following tips:
- Know the risk factors and practice prevention: More than half of colorectal cancers in the U.S. are associated with lifestyle risk factors that can be changed. So, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, drink alcohol in moderation, and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain fiber, and calcium. Family history of colorectal cancer, certain inherited genetic syndromes, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, and type 2 diabetes are also risk factors.
- Watch for symptoms and take action: Colorectal cancer can develop silently, so there may be no symptoms until it has advanced to later, and more deadly, stages. That’s why it’s critical to get screened for this disease. Symptoms to look for include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, abdominal discomfort, weakness and/or fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. If you experience these symptoms, speak with a healthcare provider immediately.
- Get screened: Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths called polyps. Screening can also detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually more successful. People at average risk should start screening at age 45, and those at higher risk may need to get checked earlier. Your providers at Community Health Systems can assist in getting you screened.
This month, let’s join together and spread awareness about colorectal cancer and encourage our loved ones to get screened. By doing so, we can help prevent this disease and save lives. Remember, colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and Community Health Systems and the Alliance is determined to end this disease within our lifetime. For more information, and to schedule your screening, call CHS at 608-361-0311.
You can schedule an appointment with your Provider at Community Health Systems by calling 608-361-0311. CHS accepts most insurance plans, and has a sliding fee scale.