SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – Colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent cancer diagnoses in the nation – Aside from some skin cancers, it’s the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. It’s also the second-leading cause of cancer death in the nation, expected to cause over 50,000 deaths in 2023 alone. Overall, throughout their lifetimes, men have an overall risk of 1-in-23 of developing colorectal cancer, while women have a risk of 1-in-26.

Are you at risk?
Like most medical conditions, colorectal cancer risk factors can vary widely due to a number of individual circumstances. Having a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or pre-cancerous polyps, may increase your risk. Certain genetic syndromes and inflammatory bowel diseases are thought to be risk factors, as well. Overall, though, the most common risk factor is age.

Research is ongoing to determine possible links between living a healthy lifestyle and a reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer, along with whether maintaining a healthy diet can reduce potential risk, though conclusions are not definitive at this point.

Are there warning signs?
Warning signs can include things like changes in your bowel habits, bloody stool, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that are persistent, or unexplained weight loss – But these symptoms don’t definitely point to colorectal cancer; and early-stage pre-cancerous polyps may present with no symptoms at all, and can be present for years.

That’s why early detection is key to promoting good outcomes.

And the best way to detect issues early? Through regular screenings as recommended by your doctor. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for most adults starting at age 45 through 75. If you’re 76 or older, talk to you doctor about your individual circumstances to determine if screening is recommended.

The good news is that overall survival rates for colorectal cancer have been steadily increasing, since the 1980s, due in no small part to increased public awareness, which in turn leads to more people sticking to a regular screening schedule.

Talk to your doctor to find out what screening schedule may work best for you.

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