If you could do something to prevent cancer, would you want to know? Would you do it?
Studies show that screening for colorectal cancer saves lives. That’s because screenings can detect cancerous cells in their earliest stages, when the disease is easiest to treat, or even pre-cancerous polyps before they turn into cancer. The CDC recommends men and women 50 and older get screened each year.
There are other reasons you might want to start screening sooner – having a close relative that has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, having inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or if you suffer from other certain genetic syndromes or abnormalities. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screenings, how often and which test is most appropriate for you.
In the early stages of colorectal cancer, most people experience no symptoms that would lead them to believe they have the disease, which is why screenings are the best form of early detection available. Further, most cases of colorectal cancer occur in people who have no family history, which are usually the people who see themselves as less likely targets.
In addition to screenings for early detection, here are a few other ways you can protect yourself against colorectal cancer:
- Increase physical activity
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Avoid tobacco and quit smoking
- Be familiar with symptoms and warning signs
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing you can do is to be proactive in protecting your health. Don’t let fear or uncertainty outweigh the benefits of getting screened for colorectal cancer. It could save your life.