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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer (cancer of the the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Every year, roughly 140,000 Americans (both men and women) are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 lives are lost because of it.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a preventable cancer that is found in the colon or rectum and usually consists of polyps on the walls of the intestines. Early screening is key, if screened in time these polyps can be removed before they become cancerous.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age, but this type of cancer does not discriminate between age or sex. More than 90% of cases occur in people 50 years of age or older.  While rates of colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, the rates in adults under 50 years old has been increasing. Other than age, there are several other risk factors that can increase your chances of getting colorectal cancer. Your risk for this cancer may be higher than average if you:

  • or a family member have had colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
  • have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonplyposis colorectal cancer.