What you need to know when it comes to Colorectal Cancer

GEORGIA-CAROLINA- March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.

The debilitating illness changes lives.

More than 50,000 people have died from the disease.

Now, Doctors Hospital and NewsChannel 6 is helping you know your status.

Doctor John Whitfield explains what you should look out for.

What is Colon Cancer or Colorectal Cancer?
· Cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum, which are parts of the digestive system and makeup the large intestine.
· Grouped together because they have many common features.
· Most start as a growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon.  Some polyps can change into a cancer depending on what type of polyp it is.

What causes Colorectal Cancer?
· Not clear what causes Colorectal Cancer, but there are factors that increase risk for Colorectal Cancer
· Some are lifestyle factors
o Overweight or obese
o Physical Inactivity
o Diet
o Smoking
o Heavy alcohol use
· Other factors
o Age
o History of Colorectal Polyps or Colorectal Cancer
o Inflammatory Bowel Disease
o Family History
o African Americans highest incidence and mortality rates
o Type 2 Diabetes

What are some symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
· Changes in bowel habits – diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
· Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
· Blood in the stool which may make the stool look dark
· Weakness and fatigue
· Unintended weight loss
· Abdominal cramping or pain

How is Colorectal Cancer diagnosed?
o American Cancer Society recommends that beginning at age 50 those with average risk should begin screening for early detection of polyps or cancer.
o Some screening tests include the Colonoscopy
o The Fecal Blood Test which Doctors Hospital offers during March annually.
Fecal tests do not replace a colonoscopy and if a fecal test result is positive, follow up testing is advised.

When it comes to the Colorectal Cancer, we do want to mention that colonoscopy screenings are the best way to detect the disease and even prevent it in some cases.

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