Why colorectal cancer screenings must remain a priority during pandemic

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Did you know that one of the most prevalent and deadly cancers in Utah and across the U. S. is colorectal cancer? In fact, colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer and is the third-leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is more important than ever, especially because at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinics were closed and appointments – including important cancer screenings – were cancelled or delayed.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is used to describe cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. The colon is a part of the large intestine or large bowel, and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Colorectal cancer can be an uncomfortable topic for some but that is why we are here to spread awareness and encourage people to discuss it with their physician as well as urge your loved ones to do the same.

Colorectal cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. Even if it spreads to the nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment, followed by chemotherapy can be highly effective. Most colorectal cancers develop first within polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous, if not removed. People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or children) who have colorectal cancer have between two and three times the risk of developing the cancer than those without a family history.

Early colorectal cancer is often associated with no symptoms, which is why screening is so important!

However, warning signs can be various things from unintentional weight loss, decreased appetite, constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days, a change in bowel movements, bleeding, and blood or black stool. Colorectal screening is an essential preventive measure not to be overlooked especially as early colorectal cancer is often associated with no symptoms.

Most of us associate turning 50 comes with a special birthday message from your health care provider: time to have a colonoscopy. Now you may anticipate that message a bit sooner. Last year, a draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force3 moved the recommendation to age 45 as the time for most people to get their first colonoscopy. The change in the guideline is designed to help catch those cancers earlier, when they’re more likely to be curable.

Getting a colorectal cancer screening test when your health care provider recommends it is of course the most important step. But whatever your age – there are five lifestyle approaches that can also lower your risk of colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. If you are not physically active, you may have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer. Being more active may help reduce your risk.

Above all, have a conversation about colorectal cancer with your physician and encourage your loved ones especially adults 45 years and older to discuss with their physician too. Early detection can save lives.

Questions? Call 1-866-637-5268 for more information.

This story contains sponsored content.

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