Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Here’s What You Should Know

colorectal cancer

Each year the month of March serves as a time to highlight the importance of colon and rectal screening to serve as a way to catch potential issues as early as possible.

You likely have heard the importance of having a colonoscopy as a means to identify this potential risk. However, according to data from the CDC, only about 70% of adults in the 50 to 75 age range are up to date on colon cancer screenings.

Who is Impacted?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States with more than 50,000 Americans dying each year due to colorectal cancer. About 106,000 people are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year.

Risk is shown to increase with age, with more than 90% of colorectal cancer cases occurring in patients 50 years of age or older. For this reason, screening is recommended for those between the ages of 50 and 75.

How Can You Reduce Your Colorectal Cancer Risk?

A report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund identified multiple diet adjustments you can make to reduce your colorectal cancer risk:

  • Increase whole-grain intake
  • Reduce red meat intake (such as beef and pork)
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly

How Can You Get Screened?

A colonoscopy can be performed by a local medical provider in person, or you can use an in-home kit. Speak to your Williams Integracare provider about which option would be best for you.

There are other screening options available for colorectal cancer – learn more about the differences between each screening option with this information from the CDC.

How Does the At-Home Kit Work?

The at-home kits are a newer, often more appealing option for patients as they do not require prep, diet changes, or time off of work. Getting one of these kits requires an order from your healthcare provider. Williams Integracare often works with brands like Cologuard to get patients these kits if your provider considers it a good option for you.

How Effective is the In-Home Kit?

While this may seem like the easier option, the in-home test is not as accurate as a traditional colonoscopy. In a study on the Cologuard test, it was found that 13% of people without cancer received a result incorrectly stating they had cancer. On the other hand, 8% of those with cancer received a result incorrectly saying they had cancer.

You can learn more about the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and its mission to increase screenings on its website.