Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. In adults aged 55 and older, the number of cases and deaths has slowly decreased over the years. However, the number of new cases of colorectal cancer in adults under the age of 55 have increased. These new cases are becoming higher in African-Americans than any other race.
Colorectal cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. They are also named by where they start, colon cancer or rectum cancer. Often times these cancers are grouped together because they have a lot in common.
- Change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, or change in the stool consistency that lasts longer than 4 weeks
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as cramping, gas or pain
- Feeling that you did not empty your bowels completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer does not cause symptoms until it is advanced. Which is why it is so important to have regular colorectal cancer screens. Typically, the screenings are started at the age of 50, but for those who have a family history of the disease, should be screened at an earlier age.
- Race. African-Americans have a higher risk of colon cancer than any other race.
- Family History. Your risk is greater if you have a close family member such as a sister, brother, mother, or father who has been diagnosed with colon cancer.
- High fat, low fiber diet. Colon cancer may be associated with a diet that is low in fiber and high in fat. Researchers have found contradictory results in this field, but are still ongoing.
- Being inactive.
According to the American Cancer Society, when colorectal cancer is found early (and has not begun to spread) the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. In other words, 9 out of 10 people where the cancer was found early, survived at least 5 years after being diagnosed. However, once cancer has had a chance to spread outside the colon or rectum, the chances of survival are lower.
Speaking with your doctor and getting screened on a regular basis is important.