The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: what you need to know

- By Jennifer Singley

I’m willing to bet we’ve all heard rumors of the dreaded colonoscop­y procedure. I’m also willing to bet that each of us probably falls into one of two camps — those who can personally relate … and those who are burying our heads in the sand, grateful we’re not old enough yet to deal with this.

But did you know the recommende­d age for getting your first colorectal cancer screening is now even younger than it used to be? Younger still if you have a family history of colon cancer.

And with good reason — the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 106,970 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year. Colon cancer is the thirdmost-commonly-diagnosed cancer; understand­ing its risk factors, symptoms and how to prevent it are more important than ever — for seniors and their younger loved ones alike.


Our risk increases with age, with the majority of diagnoses occurring in those aged 50 and older. However, since the mid-1990s, the rate of those younger than age 50 being diagnosed has been steadily increasing each year.

If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatou­s polyps, you are at higher risk of colon cancer.

The presence of irritable bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, puts you at greater risk for colon cancer.

Some inherited genetic syndromes are associated with a higher risk of developing colon cancer, such as Lynch syndrome.

Lifestyle factors like being overweight, eating a diet heavy in red and/or processed meats, being inactive, being a smoker and drinking alcohol can raise your risk of colon cancer.


Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following:

• Unexplaine­d weight loss

• Fatigue

• Change in bowel habits

• Blood in stool or rectal bleeding

• Abdominal cramping


Since it takes 10-15 years for colon polyps to develop into cancer, early detection from screening is important so that the polyps can be removed before they become cancerous.

There are available, so several tests talk to your doctor about which one is best for you — and remember, screening is now recommende­d beginning at age 45.

Aside from early and consistent screening, several lifestyle changes can reduce your risk. The American Cancer Society recommends:

• A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with limited red and processed meats

• Regular exercise

• Maintainin­g a healthy weight

• Limiting (or quitting) smoking or drinking

How can you spread colorectal cancer awareness in 2023? National Colorectal

Cancer Awareness Day is March 1. Wear dark blue to show your support. All of March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The Hickman is a senior living community located in the heart of West Chester. Guided by Quaker principles and traditions that value all life and welcome diversity, The Hickman offers individual­ized care allowing older adults the opportunit­y to enjoy a productive life and to explore the richness of all of life’s possibilit­ies. For more informatio­n, visit https://www.thehickman. org.

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