Mar 6, 2024

Shedding Light on Colorectal Cancer: Awareness, Screening, and Risk Assessment

Cancer Awareness.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 151,030 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, marking it as the third most prevalent cancer. Disturbingly, 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women will face a colorectal cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. As March unfolds, we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, providing a prime opportunity to delve into colorectal cancer screening, assess individual risk factors, and actively engage in the quest for awareness.

Initiating Colorectal Cancer Screening: A Vital Step in Health

For those at an average risk of developing colorectal cancer, screening should commence at the age of 45 and persist until the age of 75. Individuals aged 76 to 85 should engage in a dialogue with their healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of continued screening. Notably, those aged 86 or older are not recommended to undergo screening.

Diverse Screening Options: Tailoring to Individual Needs

Various screening options are available, allowing flexibility to cater to individual preferences and health considerations:

  • Colonoscopy: Repeat every 10 years.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Repeat every 5-10 years.
  • CT Colonography: Repeat every 5 years.
  • Stool-Based Screening: Repeat every 1-3 years.

Assessing Risk Factors: Are You at Increased Risk?

Understanding one’s risk profile is pivotal in the fight against colorectal cancer. Approximately 5-10% of colorectal cancer cases have a hereditary component, where individuals inherit a harmful genetic alteration that heightens their lifetime susceptibility to the disease. Elevated risk may be indicated by:

  • A blood relative diagnosed with colorectal cancer under 50 years of age.
  • Multiple family members with colorectal cancer diagnoses.
  • A personal or family history of colon polyps.

Navigating Increased Risk: Personalized Screening Strategies

Individuals identified as having an increased risk due to genetic or familial factors may qualify for more frequent colorectal cancer screening and an earlier onset of screening (prior to 45 years). This proactive approach aims to detect and address potential issues at the earliest possible stage.

Marching Forward: Elevating Colorectal Cancer Awareness

As National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month unfolds, seize the opportunity to familiarize yourself with screening options, assess your risk factors, and actively participate in initiatives that spread awareness. Early detection through regular screening remains a powerful weapon against colorectal cancer, enhancing the prospects for successful intervention and improved outcomes.

Together, let’s champion awareness, promote understanding, and take collective steps toward a future where colorectal cancer is not just treatable but preventable. Your engagement and knowledge can make a significant impact in the collective effort to combat this prevalent and impactful disease.

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