Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Colorectal Cancer—Second-Leading Cause of Cancer Death Nationwide


According to the National Institutes of Health, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death nationwide. However, it usually can be cured when caught early.

Screening tests like colonoscopy can save lives by catching problems before symptoms even appear,” ARH Oncologist Samuel Bailey, M.D. stated. 


Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum, both of which are part of the large intestine. Scientists don’t yet know what causes colorectal cancer, but certain factors affect your risk. Smoking, excess weight, or having three or more alcoholic drinks per day raises your risk.

“Also keep in mind that the risk for colorectal cancer rises with age,” added Bailey. “Your risk also doubles if you have a close relative who has had colorectal cancer.”

The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine. Colorectal cancer occurs when tumors form in the lining of the large intestine. It is common in both men and women. The risk of developing colorectal cancer rises after age 50. You're also more likely to get it if you have colorectal polyps, a family history of colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, eat a diet high in fat, or smoke.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include diarrhea or constipation; a feeling that your bowel does not empty completely; blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool; stools that are narrower than usual; frequent gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated; fatigue; nausea or vomiting; weight loss with no known reason.

“Because you may not have symptoms at first, it's important to have screening tests,” explained Bailey.  “Everyone over 50 should get screened.”

Tests include colonoscopy and tests for blood in the stool. Treatments for colorectal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination. Surgery usually can cure it when it is found early.  Talk with your healthcare provider about scheduling a screening. 

Source: National Institutes of Health: National Cancer Institute

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