Awareness Saves Lives – Colorectal Cancer Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so the team from our CCRC in Sussex County, New Jersey is sharing some important information to help spread awareness about this serious disease and save lives. Here is a quick guide to the signs, symptoms and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
Several factors can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer, but doctors still aren’t sure exactly what causes this disease. If any of the following risk factors apply to you, it’s a good idea to take note of the warning signs, so the disease can be caught early.
The 7 risk factors include:
- Inherited gene mutations. A family history of Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome) or Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP or colon polyps).
- Age. You are more at risk if you are over the age of 50.
- Race. African Americans are more vulnerable to the disease than other races.
- Diet. Low fiber, high fat diets increase your risk.
- Diabetes. Insulin resistance can increase your risk.
- Overweight and a sedentary lifestyle place you at higher risk than more active people of healthier weight ranges.
- Alcohol consumption and smoking.
6 Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer doesn’t always start off with symptoms, but it is important to note any of the following, as they can be indicators of the disease:
- Changes in bowel habits that last more than a few days (diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of stool).
- Rectal bleeding of fresh, bright red blood.
- Feeling of fullness in the bowels that is not relieved by a bowel movement.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Weakness, fatigue and unintended weight loss.
- Low red blood cell count.
Early diagnosis is key to preventing and defeating this kind of cancer, and the American Cancer Society recommends that anyone over 50 participate in screening tests, including:
- Colonoscopy every 10 years.
- CT colonography every 5 years.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years.
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years.
Many of these symptoms can also indicate other health conditions like an infection, hemorrhoids or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), so it’s important to see your doctor right away, even if you don’t believe you are at risk of cancer.
Independent Living for Seniors at Our CCRC in Sussex County, New Jersey
Bristol Glen is an independent senior living community based in Sussex County that provides seniors with comfortable, serviced living arrangements that free up time to enjoy life.