What Can I Do About Colorectal Cancer?

With screening, colorectal cancer is very preventable. Colorectal cancer can be detected early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated. For these reasons, there are several things you can do about colorectal cancer.

  1. Get the Facts.
  2. Eat Healthy. Stay Active. Don’t Smoke.
  3. Get Screened.
  4. Get Vocal.
  5. Donate.

Get the Facts.
You are your own best health advocate, but you can’t protect yourself against a disease if you don’t know what it is and whether you’re at risk.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or the rectum. It is as common in women as it is in men. It develops from adenomatous polyps—grape-like growths that can appear on the lining of the colon and rectum—that may become cancerous over time. With screening, colorectal cancer is very preventable, because polyps can be found and removed before they become cancer.

At Risk

  • Men and women age 50 and older
  • People who smoke
  • People who are overweight or obese, especially those who carry fat around their waists.
  • People who are not active and don’t exercise
  • People who drink alcohol in excess, especially men
  • People who eat a lot of red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb) or processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts)
  • People with personal or family histories of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps
  • People with personal histories of inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • People with family histories of inherited colorectal cancer or inherited colorectal problems

Eat Healthy. Stay Active. Don’t Smoke.
Reducing our risk represents the greatest control we may ever have over certain cancers. You can do your part by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Here are some healthy habits that you can start today:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day if you are a woman or two drinks a day if you are a man.
  • Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.
  • (More research is needed to know if certain foods or supplements lower the risk of colorectal cancer.)

Get Screened.

Advances in research have provided us with new technologies for detecting cancer early. As you probably know by now, colorectal cancer is very preventable, if detected early. So, take advantage of this progress and talk to your health care professional about getting screened!

If you are at average risk, start screening at age 50. If you are over 50, talk to your healthcare provider about making an appointment to get screened.

There are several colorectal screening tests available. Consider one of these:

Tests that find pre-cancer and cancer: Screening intervals:
Colonoscopy Every 10 years
Virtual colonoscopy Every 5 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy Every 5 years
Double-contrast barium enema Every 5 years
Tests that mainly find cancer:
Stool occult blood test (FOBT) (guaiac) Every year
Stool immunochemical test (FIT) Every year
Stool DNA test (sDNA) Ask your health care professional because technology is evolving

An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema, or a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test, should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

Get Vocal.
One of the easiest ways to help make a difference in colorectal cancer is to share your knowledge.

  • Share what you know about colorectal cancer with your friends and family.
  • Encourage those around you to make healthy lifestyle choices and to get screened.
  • Send a Screen-A-Gram to your friends and family who are 50 or older to remind them to get screened.
  • Share your colorectal cancer stories so others can learn about the importance of prevention and early detection.
  • Contact your legislators about the value of screening programs
    • Click here to find your legislators and to learn more about current issues related to cancer prevention and early detection.
  • Volunteer with community health centers and other organizations that have colorectal cancer awareness campaigns.

Your donation will help support cancer prevention and education through the programs of the Prevent Cancer Foundation in research, education and community outreach.

Learn More About Colorectal Cancer


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