Colorectal Cancer ~ Don’t Wait to Get Checked!

By Sherrie Pratt, Media & Communications Specialist

Cancer comes in many forms, so we must stay informed. March is National Colorectal Awareness Month, a time to discuss ways to reduce the risk of getting the disease. It’s also commonly known as colon cancer.

Health experts recommend screening for colon cancer as early as age 45. The good news is it’s preventable, which is why check-ups are so important. Polyps or abnormal growths can pop up in the colon or rectum and become cancerous. You could be at risk if there is a family history of colon cancer.

Educating patients is a daily objective for Central Florida Health Care provider Geoffry Hall. He says there are additional uncontrollable risk factors to keep in mind, including a history of colorectal polyps, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.) African Americans or people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are also more at risk.

Hall says early stages of colorectal Cancer may not show any symptoms; however, as the disease progresses, patients may notice certain changes such as:

  • Unusual bowel changes over several days with narrow stools, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Very dark or bright red stools, possibly indicating blood
  • A feeling that the bowel is not emptying completely
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Fatigue

Any combination of those symptoms would warrant a visit to a primary care provider for testing and evaluation. So how do you lower the risk of colorectal Cancer? Hall encourages maintaining a healthy lifestyle, like eating various fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He also advises drinking alcohol in moderation if at all, stopping smoking, exercising most days of the week, and maintaining a healthy weight. We have a heart for your best health!