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Shining a Light on Colorectal Cancer: What You Need to Know

colorectal cancer awareness month

March marks Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer. At Thorek Memorial Hospital, we’re committed to educating our community about colorectal cancer and empowering individuals to take proactive steps for their health. Join us as we delve into important information about colorectal cancer, its risk factors, and why early detection is crucial.

Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, which includes cancers of the colon and rectum, affects both men and women and is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both sexes in the United States. While the exact cause of colorectal cancer is not always clear, several risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • Age: The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, with the majority of cases diagnosed in individuals over 50.
  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer or certain genetic conditions are at higher risk.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Factors such as obesity, a diet high in red or processed meats, lack of physical activity, smoking, and heavy alcohol use can increase the risk.
  • Medical Conditions: Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) can raise the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Race and Ethnicity: Certain racial and ethnic groups, such as African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews, have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Importance of Screening and Early Detection

The good news is that colorectal cancer is highly preventable and, when detected early, highly treatable. Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), and stool DNA tests, can help detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stages or even before it develops. Recommendations for screening vary based on individual risk factors, but generally, screening should begin at age 45 for most adults and earlier for those with increased risk factors. Find a doctor near you and call us at (773) 271-9040 when you’re ready to schedule an appointment.

Taking Action for Your Health

As part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Thorek Memorial Hospital encourages everyone to take action for their health by:

  • Getting Screened: Talk to your healthcare provider about colorectal cancer screening options and when to start based on your risk factors.
  • Leading a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco use, can help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Knowing Your Family History: Be aware of your family’s medical history and share any relevant information with your healthcare provider.
  • Raising Awareness: Spread the word about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and early detection to friends, family, and loved ones.

In Conclusion

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder that knowledge is power when it comes to preventing and detecting colorectal cancer. By understanding the risk factors, prioritizing screening, and making healthy lifestyle choices, we can make strides in reducing the impact of this disease on our community. Together, let’s shine a light on colorectal cancer and work towards a future where it is no longer a leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

For more information about colorectal cancer screening and resources, please schedule a consultation with one of Thorek’s healthcare providers now