March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

ACHD’s Experience with Colon Cancer
ACHD’s Legislative Advocate, Sheila Johnston started a very personal experience with colon cancer in the summer of 2014. Her husband, who is only 37 years old, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She and her husband are now one year into their colon cancer journey and are thankful they identified the symptoms as early as they did. Sheila and her husband recommend regular screenings and speaking with your doctor as soon as you notice any changes in your body.

What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 142,820 people will be diagnosed in 2013, and of the total diagnosed, approximately 50,830 will die from colon cancer in the United States. About 72 percent of cases arise in the colon and 28 percent in the rectum.

colon cancer

Colon Cancer and Age
90 percent of new cases and 95 percent of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or older. However, colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age.
While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years has been increasing.

Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
• Colorectal cancer may cause one or more of the symptoms below. If you have any of the following you should see your doctor:
• A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
• A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
• Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
• Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
• Weakness and fatigue
• Unintended weight loss

Most of these symptoms are more often caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated.

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Source: “Colon Cancer Statistics.” Colon Cancer Alliance. February 18, 2015

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