Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Did you know March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month? It is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society, Inc. Though, there is a slightly higher risk in men than in women. So, what can you do now to prevent Colorectal Cancer?

First, let’s review.

Cancer that starts in the colon or rectum is called Colorectal Cancer. Growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum become cancerous. Some of these growths, or Polyps, can change into cancer; though it usually takes years to do so. However, some Polyps never become cancerous.

The main types of Polyps are Adenomatous, Hyperplastic and inflammatory. ¬†Adenomatous is considered a pre-cancerous condition because they more likely to becoming cancerous. Hyperplastic and inflammatory Polyps are more common and usually don’t become cancerous.

Once cancer develops in a Polyp, it can spread into the wall of the colon or rectum. Then, it can grow into the many layers that make up both the colon and rectum, affecting the blood vessels and lymph vessels. (These vessels are channels that carry away waste.) From there, the cancer can travel to lymph nodes as well as other organs.

The stage of Colorectal Cancer is determined by how deeply it has grown into the wall of the colon and rectum.


Risk Factors

Colorectal Cancer and your lifestyle have been linked as the major risk factor. Actually, most cancers are caused by your way of life. But you’ve been told that before.

The risk factors that you can control include:

  • weight
  • exercise
  • diet
  • smoking
  • alcohol

However, there are a few you have no control over, such as:

  • age
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • family history
  • type 2 diabetes

The age-old story is the same; controlling your weight by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly plays an important role in your overall health. Your doctor hasn’t been nagging you for no reason! Although you might be surprised to read smoking affects your colon and rectum. In fact, smoking affects just about every organ in your body.

Your risk of Colorectal Cancer increases as you get older, which is why your doctor might encourage a colonoscopy when you turn 50 years old. Screening is one of the most powerful tools for detecting cancer early.