Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in women and men, and is the 3rd leading cause of cancer related deaths in both. The good news is, the death rate from the CRC has been dropping over the last few decades! A leading factor in the decline is that colorectal polyps are being found through SCREENING colonoscopy, and removed before they can develop into cancers; OR they are being discovered early enough to effectively treat the disease.
The early stages of CRC may present no signs or symptoms at all. Some of the more common symptoms you may experience are:
- Changes in your bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation that does not go away
- Dark patches of blood in or on your stool; or long, thin, “pencil” stools
- Bleeding or cramping from the rectum
- Feeling like you can not empty your bowels completely
- Unexplained fatigue and/or weight loss
- Pelvic pain
Other individual health practices that may increase the risk of developing CRC are smoking, being overweight, and/or a family history of polyps or colon cancer, just to name a few.
The Affordable Care Act requires any health plan started on or after September 23, 2010 to cover CRC screening tests 100%. Verify this with your provider. If you are 50 years old or older (or younger with a family history of colon cancer/polyps), add this to your “must do” list. We encourage you to take your health, and your life very seriously!