March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to learn more about your health and how you can protect yourself from this life-threatening illness. Colorectal cancer ranks third among the leading causes of cancer death in the U.S. There are a number of factors that can increase or decrease your chances of developing colorectal or colon cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
Your chances of getting colorectal cancer increases as you age. You may also have an increased risk if you:
- Are diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease
- Have a personal or family history of colon cancer
- Do not get enough exercise
- Eat a diet that is low in vegetables and fruit
- Eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet
- Regularly consume alcohol
- Use tobacco products
- Are obese or overweight
Colon or Rectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a term often used to describe two types of cancer: colon and rectal. The type a patient has is determined by where the condition forms. There are several differences that you should be aware of if you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer.
- Rectal cancer is more common in men
- Radiation is not commonly used to treat colon cancer
- Rectal cancer is harder to cure with a 15% to 45% recurrence rate
- Surgery for colon cancer is simpler with fewer obstacles to reach the tumor
- Rectal cancer is more likely to spread
What Can You Do to Help Prevent Cancer Deaths?
Even if you are not a medical professional, there are things you can do to help lower the colon cancer death statistics this year. First, have yourself screened. Early prevention is important. Second, make sure your loved ones also have regular screenings.
Finally, you can help others by donating to a cancer charity and spreading awareness of the condition. To get started, contact a gastroenterologist to discuss prevention and screenings.