March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

March is a good time to spread awareness about this disease, a diagnoses that only recently has become a widespread topic of conversation.

Last year, “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing started many conversations regarding colorectal cancer, particularly around the shock of Boseman dying at the age of 43 from the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, although the majority of colorectal cancer (CRC) cases occur in adults ages 50 and older, 12% are diagnosed in individuals younger than 50.

Cases among people younger than 50 are rising, and the reason remains unclear.

What is colorectal cancer?

CRC is a common and lethal disease. It is an abnormal malignant growth of colon or rectum that happens when cells start to grow out of control.

How common is colorectal cancer?

Globally, CRC is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and the second in females. In the United States, is among the top four cancers diagnosed annually. The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 150,000 new cases will be diagnosed every year and approximately 53,200 Americans die of CRC.

In the United States, the lifetime incidence of CRC in patients at average risk is approximately 4 percent

Why is it important to educate people on colorectal cancer?

Catching this cancer quickly can allow for more effective treatment and save lives. If the disease has not spread yet, treatment could essentially cure the person.

Who is at risk from this disease? Know your “risk factors.” Those with any of the below risk factors, or a family history of colon cancer, should begin screenings earlier.

The risk of developing CRC is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors.

Race: African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the U.S.

Gender: male 25% > female.

Age is a major risk factor for sporadic CRC. The incidence begins to increase significantly between the ages of 40 and 50

A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous precancerous polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis), abdominal/pelvic radiation, cystic fibrosis or an inherited gene mutations.

Having type 2 diabetes

Red and processed meat


Tobacco smoking

How do you detect colorectal cancer?

The best way to find and prevent colon cancer is with a screening colonoscopy. During the procedure, we can identify polyps and remove them and biopsy any areas of concern.

Our board-certified physicians at Gastrointestinal Associates perform approximately 15,000 colonoscopies every year.

We surpass national benchmarks for finding and removing precancerous polyps.

Healthy patients with no symptoms or family history can have their first colonoscopy at age 45-50. If you have symptoms or any family history, you may need a screening earlier.

Are there symptoms we should look for?

If you have a change in bowel habits that is persistent such as constipation or diarrhea, blood in your stool or rectal bleeding, unusual fatigue or ongoing abdominal pain, make an appointment with a specialist.

Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms, which is why screening is important.

Can lifestyle changes decrease the risk for colorectal cancer?

Eating high fiber diet, avoiding high fat diet, red and processed meat, avoiding smoking tobacco, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, staying active and avoiding obesity.

If you have questions or think you might need a screening, request an appointment here.