Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with more than 50,000 Americans dying from the cancer each year. Here are a few important facts to know about colorectal cancer:
1. Risk increases if you are more than 50 years old. More than 90 percent of cases occur in people older than 50. Though the risk is highest after the age of 50, the screening age could be lowered to 40 to decrease the amount of colorectal cancer deaths even more.
2. The main factors that increase your risk for colorectal cancer include genetics, family history and age.
3. There are a few screening options for colorectal cancer. They include colonoscopy, which are done every 10 years, fecal occult blood test or stool tests, which are done every year, and sigmoidoscopy, which are done every five years.
4. Lifestyle choices do play a role in your risk of developing colorectal cancer. People who consume a high-fat diet from red meat and processed meat are at a higher risk for developing colon cancer. Those who lack exercise, consume excessive amounts of alcohol and smokers put themselves at risk.
5. Common symptoms of precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer include blood in the stool, stomach aches, cramps and excessive weight loss.
6. Colorectal cancer often starts as a polyp and progresses over a few years. Screening for cancer is crucial because it can detect a polyp prior to it becoming cancerous.
7. A diet that is high in fiber and Vitamin D can aid in the prevention of developing colorectal cancer.
Contact the Dr. Sachse at Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia for information on preventing, diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer.