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Colorectal Cancer: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Colorectal cancer comes second among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. But thanks to more awareness on screening, colorectal cancer death rate has been declining for several decades.

Here are five things you need to know about this cancer type:

It has many risk factors, which include:

  • A family history of the disease
  • A history of polyps in the rectum or colon
  • A personal history of colon, ovary, breast, rectum, or endometrium cancer
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Dietary factors, such as increased intake of processed or red meat
  • Intake of excess alcohol

The lifetime risk is slightly higher in men than women

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing this cancer is 1 in 24 (4.15 percent) for women and 1 in 22 (4.49 percent) for men. Therefore, men are at a slightly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to women.

The symptoms of colorectal cancer

A common sign of this cancer is a change in bowel habits or the presence of blood in stool. Other symptoms include:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or feeling that the bowel doesn’t empty fully
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Stools that seem narrower than normal
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Frequent bloating, gas pains, cramps, or fullness
  • Vomiting

It’s preventable and treatable

To prevent the development or advancement of colorectal cancer, The American Cancer Society recommends screening for individuals facing the average risk. The screening should start at 45 years.

The most common treatment for all stages of this disease is surgery. The other treatment options include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Genetics accounts for the cause of colorectal cancer for one in ten patients. Remember to share the health history of your family with the doctor.

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