Deemed a “silent killer,” colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the Unites States, and it impacts people of all races and ethnicities. Among the cancers that people are most likely to die from, colorectal cancer comes in second behind lung cancer. In 2018, over 50,000 people in the U.S. were projected to die from colorectal cancer. Clearly, this is a cancer worth talking about.
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum, the main parts of the large intestine, and it starts with abnormal growths called “polyps.” Left undetected over time, these usually benign polyps can grow and become cancerous. While polyps are more common in people over 50, anyone can get colorectal cancer. In fact, this cancer often appears to be random.
That said, there are groups of people who tend to have a higher risk for developing colorectal cancer:
- people who have had other types of cancer
- people who have a family history of cancer (especially, colorectal cancer)
- people who suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
- people with Type-2 diabetes
Colorectal cancer is generally slow to develop. By the time symptoms occur, the cancer may have grown or spread to other organs. This can make it harder to treat. That’s why routine colorectal cancer screening is important.
Symptoms can include:
- changes in bowel movements, including thinner or more watery stools, that last for several days
- blood in stools
- painful gas, bloating, or abdominal cramps
- unexplained weight loss
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or if you have a family history of colorectal or other cancers, it’s time to start talking to your doctor about your colon health…and the sooner, the better.