National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a disease that starts in the colon or the rectum, the lower portion of your digestive system. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. These growths are called polyps.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States found in both men and women, affecting about 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women. It is estimated that the United States will have 149,500 new colorectal cancer cases in the year 2021 and nearly 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer each year.
How Do We Screen for Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer can be detected by performing screening tests such as a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and/or a colonoscopy. Currently, one in three adults are not being screened as recommended. Regular screenings can prevent colorectal cancer as a polyp can take 10-15 years to develop into cancer. And when colorectal cancer is detected at an early stage before it has spread, the five-year relative survival rate is about 90 percent.
Who Should Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?
The United States Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) recommends that adults without a family history should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. Individuals at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start screening before age 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests. This includes people with:
- A family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps (see colorectal cancer risk factors below)
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
- A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
- A person who has obesity. Obesity increases a person’s risk of developing at least seven types of cancer
*If you’re at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer (or think you might be), talk to your health care provider to learn more.
How to Prevent Colorectal Cancer
- Intentional weight loss
- Increase in physical activity
- Diet rich in fish, fruits, and vegetables
- Limit alcohol intake
What is Community Health Alliance Doing?
The Colorectal Cancer Quality Improvement Committee and the Community Health Alliance (CHA) Foundation have been working with the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation to increase colorectal screenings. CHA has been able to provide FIT kits and assistance with colonoscopies to our uninsured and underinsured patients with the help of the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation. This has played a large role in our efforts to educate and help protect our patients from colorectal cancer. In the month of March, we are tabling at our health centers to inform patients on colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer screenings.
If you would like to visit our team at our health centers to learn more about colorectal cancer and screenings, please review our schedule below:
- Tuesday, March 22 from 12:30-4 p.m. at our Wells Ave Health Center
- Wednesday, March 23 from 9-12 p.m. at our North Valleys Health Center
- Tuesday, March 29 from 9-12 p.m. at our Nell J. Redfield Health Center, Sun Valley
- Wednesday, March 30 from 9-12 p.m. at our Sparks Health Center
Please call Community Health Alliance at (775) 329-6300 to schedule a screening for colorectal cancer.