Colorectal cancer, which is defined as any cancer that starts in the colon, rectum or even the large intestine, is a topic that faces a fair amount of stigma in our society. Unfortunately, even though it’s one of the least talked about forms of cancer, it’s also one of the most prevalent in America.
Here are three reasons why it’s so important to come together as a community and openly talk about colorectal cancer this month.
It Can Affect Anyone, at Any Age
Although colorectal cancer is more often associated with those over the age of 45, it can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or lifestyle. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that the overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women.
It’s estimated that there will be over 97,000 new cases of colon cancer and more than 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer. Moreover, the ACS also estimates that colorectal cancer will cause 50,630 deaths during 2018 in the United States alone.
Awareness Results in Prevention
This common form of cancer has always been something of a taboo topic amongst the general population. It’s understandable, but talking about it more openly with each other is the only way to help more people prevent and detect it before it’s too late.
Make no mistake, there is no guaranteed way to prevent colorectal cancer. But by encouraging friends and family members who may be at risk to get screened, you’re able to employ one of the most powerful ways to fight this cancer.
With that said, there are a few things you can do to help improve your level of risk beyond regular screenings, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular physical activity
- Enjoying a healthy diet
- Moderating alcohol consumption
- Not smoking
Your doctor can help you understand what you should be doing to improve your level of risk as well as when you should be getting screened.
There’s Hope with Treatment Options
Beyond spreading the word about prevention, talking about colorectal cancer also sheds light on potential treatment options for those who are afflicted by the disease. Treatment options vary based on severity and stage, but surgery is often necessary to remove tumors caused by colorectal cancer.
Talking about the cancer and its treatment options are an important part of ensuring that others know that there’s still hope after a diagnosis. In fact, the National Cancer Institute’s data shows that the 5-year survival rate for people with stage I cancer is about 87%.
It’s up to all of us to work towards removing the stigma that surrounds colorectal cancer. By educating yourself, understanding your own risk and helping others understand their risk levels, you can make a huge difference in your family and in your community.