Friday, March 7 is National Dress in Blue Day to increase awareness of colorectal cancer. The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments are encouraging everyone to wear blue on the 7th, to promote Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
So, what exactly is colorectal cancer? It is sometimes called a “silent disease”because the warning signs may not be noticeable and many feel uncomfortable talking about it. The problem is the longer you go without checking into it, the bigger the problem becomes, literally. So swallow your uneasiness and learn more about this cancer.
The good news however, is colon cancer is 90 percent curable when detected early so colorectal screening can save your life.
Colorectal cancer refers to cancer in two different parts of the digestive tract, the colon and the rectum. The following are certain factors that increase a person’s risk for getting the disease:
- — A family history of colon cancer.
- — A personal history of colon cancer.
- — A personal history of intestinal polyps. A polyp is a mass of tissue that develops on the inside wall of a hollow organ such as the colon. Polyps are benign (non-cancerous), but may become cancerous over time. Most, perhaps all, colorectal cancers develop in polyps.
- — Aging. Colorectal cancers occur most often in people over the age of 50 and the risk gets higher as the person gets older.
For a complete listing of risk factors visit:http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-risk-factors
The important key to fighting colorectal cancer is knowingyour body and being aware of potential symptoms no matter how old you are. Some warning signs to look for include:
- — A change in bowel habits, Frequent gas pains
- — Weight loss with no known reason
- — Blood in or on the stool
- — General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness, and/or cramps)
For a complete listing of symptoms visit:http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-signs-and-symptoms
One of the tests used to aid in diagnosis is called the FIT (fecal immunochemical test) kit – it is easy, there are no dietary or medication restrictions.
This test is done in the privacy of your home. It is only a test for blood and not a test that directly detects cancer. This test is used because colorectal cancer may cause bleeding that cannot be seen.
Other conditions (ulcerative colitis, intestinal polyps) may also cause bleeding, so having blood in the stool does not always mean a person has cancer.
So do not make any excuses about not being checked for colorectal cancer. If you are at risk or are experiencing any of the warning signs talk to your doctor now. It may be nothing which is great, but if it is something, get it taken care of so it doesn’t get worse. Remember, there is no excuse worth your life!
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