March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

Be sure to dress in blue on Friday, March 7th to spread the word about Colon Cancer awareness! Just as the pink ribbon represents the fight against breast cancer, a blue star provides hope in battling colorectal cancer. Did you know that colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in the US?

Colorectal cancer affects the colon and the rectum. It can begin as a small, abnormal growth known as a polyp. Although colorectal cancer can affect both men and women of any age, most cases occur in those over age 50. In fact, 90% of new cases occur in those over 50.

Early screening can save lives. Some screening tests include a colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy, and a high-sensitivity FOBT (stool-test). A colonoscopy uses a long, flexible tube to check for polyps in the colon or rectum. A doctor can actually remove the polyps during this procedure. A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but instead uses a short, flexible tube to check for polyps in the rectum and lower part of the colon. A stool-test checks for the presence of blood in the sample.

Although colorectal cancer does not always have tell-tale signs, some symptoms may include blood in the stool, persistent abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. Since treatment is most effective during the early stages of colorectal cancer, it is important to recognize any symptoms and obtain regular screening exams.

Did you know that eating a high-fat diet, smoking, and consuming alcohol excessively are lifestyle factors that may increase your risk for colorectal cancer? But prevention is simple! Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, exercising regularly, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption are great ways to reduce your risk. As with many other types of cancers, having a family history of colorectal cancer can increase your risk. In fact, on average, your risk for developing colorectal cancer in 1 in 20. But, those who have a first-degree relative (such as a sibling or parent) with colorectal cancer have two to three times the risk of developing the cancer!

If you are over 50, be sure to get your colonoscopy every 10 years. Remember, colonoscopies can catch colorectal cancer!

Most insurance plans cover screening tests, diagnostic exams, and treatment related to colorectal cancer. However, for men and women that are uninsured or whose insurance plans do not cover these services many states have a Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP), which can help provide access to these preventative services. Visit Connecticut’s own CRCCP to learn more.

Join the discussion on twitter by visiting the Colon Cancer Alliance at @CCAlliance and using the hashtag #DressInBlueDay. Visit the Colon Cancer Alliance for more information.

Looking for a creative and no-cost way to get involved? Join the One Million Strong Virtual March. For every individual that joins the march, Bayer will donate $2 to Fight Colorectal Cancer, a non-profit organization. Create your own Virtual March character and help raise awareness! Join Fight Colorectal Cancer on twitter at @FightCRC and use the hashtag #CRCawareness to join the cause.

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