March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, McLaren Northern Michigan wants to remind you to get screened.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States this year, and over 50,000 will die from the disease. In fact, colorectal cancer is the nation’s third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths when men and women are combined.

The good news is that screening can help find and prevent colorectal cancer. It is one of the most successfully treated cancers if diagnosed early.

“Regular screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. We recommend that most people begin regular screening at age 50,” stated Luke McCrone, MD, Gastroenterologist at McLaren Northern Michigan. “Those with a family history of colorectal cancer may need to start screening earlier.”

The links between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Additional lifestyle risks include smoking and heavy alcohol use.

The most common colorectal cancer checks are stool tests and a colonoscopy. Stool tests are used to look for small amounts of blood or DNA passed in a bowel movement that might indicate a polyp or cancer. These simple tests are performed in the privacy of your home. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for early colorectal cancer diagnosis. Colonoscopies are offered at McLaren Northern Michigan as well as other hospitals and outpatient clinics.

If you haven't been tested, talk to your primary care physician. If you have been tested, talk to your family and friends. Make sure they know the facts and encourage them to get tested. Together we can help reduce the number of adults who develop and die from colorectal cancer.