National Colorectal Awareness Month

Introduction from Pastor Morrison

March is National Colorectal Awareness and it’s a good time to think about getting screened for colorectal cancer. It’s a sad fact that African Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a higher risk of dying from it. We’re also less likely to get screened for this cancer, which is unfortunate because screening can detect it early, when treatment works best. If you’ve delayed getting screened, do yourself a favor and don’t put it off any longer.

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

Reduce your Risk

The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but many people are not being screened according to national guidelines. In fact, 23 million Americans are not up to date on screening.

If you’re 50 years old or older, getting a screening test for colorectal cancer could save your life. Here’s how—

  • Colorectal cancer screening tests can find precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths on the inside of the colon. These can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented.
  • Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment often leads to a cure.

You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then keep getting screened regularly until the age of 75. Ask your doctor if you should be screened if you’re older than 75.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. Symptoms for colorectal cancer may include—

  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
  • Losing weight for no apparent reason.

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you’re having any of these symptoms, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.

Research at Yale University

Yale has a tradition of offering cutting edge cancer treatment, such as the first use of chemotherapy in the U.S. in 1942. Today, Yale Cancer Center offers state-of-the-art treatment for colon cancer, including clinical trials using the latest drugs or combinations of drugs directed at those patients who can benefit the most.

Clinical trials have helped doctors develop new treatments for colon cancer and other diseases and they have also helped them understand which patients can benefit from certain treatments. These advances have made a huge difference in the lives of patients.

To find out more about Yale’s clinical trials for colon cancer, visit www.yalestudies.org or call the Yale Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at 203-200-4422.

Courtesy of National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention