March is designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, which is why prevention, early detection and treatment are so important.
- More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are 50 or older. Because colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as we age, it’s important to get routine screenings — like colonoscopies — starting at age 50.
- The risk of colorectal cancer among people under 50 is still quite low and can be reduced by making good lifestyle choices. Obesity, diet and physical inactivity are linked to colorectal cancer, so increasing physical activity, eating a diet low in red and processed meats, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco can help lower your risk.
- Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent colorectal cancer in some adults, depending on age and risk factors.
The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to have regular colorectal cancer screening tests starting at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. Talk to your primary care physician about when to begin colorectal cancer screening, which test is right for you and how often you should get tested.