Lee Health: March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

When looking at statistics for women and men combined, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second-leading cause of death in Florida and in the United States. This type of cancer, though, can be caught early with proper screening, and when detected early, it is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so I wanted to share a friendly reminder to schedule your screening.

Colorectal cancer screening is most commonly associated with a colonoscopy, but there are a variety of screening tests available, including some that you can do at home. It is best to talk to your doctor about the screening test options and which is right for you. Colorectal cancer screening is vital because the doctor can find precancerous polyps, or growths in the colon or rectum, during the screening and remove them before they turn into cancer.

Having a conversation about colorectal cancer can be a lifesaver.
Having a conversation about colorectal cancer can be a lifesaver.

Most adults should begin screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 45. You should talk to your doctor about your personal health and family history to determine if you should start screening early, particularly if you have:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or

  • A personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.

  • People who are older than 75 years of age should also consult their doctor about screenings and whether or not they are necessary.

Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms right away, which is why screening is so important. If you experience any irregularities, like unexplained weight loss or fatigue, bloody stools or other changes in bowel habits, talk to your doctor immediately.

In the event of a cancer diagnosis, the Lee Health Regional Cancer Center is here to help, close to home, with an expert team of medical oncologists, specialists and nurse navigators who provide the best, advanced treatment options tailored to each patient’s needs. For more information, visit LeeHealth.org/find-a-location/regional-cancer-center.

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Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA is the president & CEO of Lee Health, Southwest Florida’s major destination for health care offering acute care, emergency care, rehabilitation and diagnostic services, health and wellness education, and community outreach and advocacy programs. Visit LeeHealth.org to learn more.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Lee Health: March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month