March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Although it was once considered to be an “older person’s disease,” typically impacting men and women over the age of 55, recent data has shown that more young adults are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 

Who is at risk for developing colorectal cancer?

Both men and women are equally at risk for colon cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and the third for men. Cancer is most common among people aged 50 and older but can occur in patients as young as teenagers. 

Although the rate of colorectal cancer is declining overall, it is increasing among young adults due to them mistaking symptoms for benign conditions, like hemorrhoids. 

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, which includes both colon and rectal cancer, include:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Blood in the stool, which may make it look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

What To Do if Signs are Present

Over 75% of colon and rectal cancers happen to people with no known risk factors, which is why regular screenings are so important. With a new generation at risk, it’s more important than ever that symptoms of the disease are identified early so that the proper screenings and treatment can take place. Screening options include a stool test, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, 

This March, take Adventist HealthCare’s free and easy colorectal cancer risk assessment and learn your risk for colon and rectal cancer. 

 

Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

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