FULTON, NY – Early detection is perhaps the most important weapon in the war against cancer.
March is “Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month,” a time when the Cancer Services Program Partnership of Oswego County reminds us that regular screenings are especially important for the early detection of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer – cancer that begins in the colon or rectum – has been gaining an increasing amount of national attention.
However, a large number of New Yorkers are still not aware of their risk and many are not being screened at recommended intervals.
Screening helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more successful.
The Cancer Services Program Partnership of Oswego County recommends that all men and women ages 50 and older talk to their health care provider about being screened for colorectal cancer.
People with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) or those with other high-risk conditions may need to begin regular screening at an earlier age.
Speak with your doctor about when you should begin screening and how often you should be tested.
Excluding skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the US.
It is estimated that one in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.
Each year in New York State, more than 10,400 people develop cancer of the colon and rectum, and nearly 3,600 New Yorkers die from this disease.
Some people are at greater risk than others of developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older.
Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50.
Men and women may be at higher risk if a parent, sibling or child has had the disease.
People with a history of colon polyps, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease are also more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
“There are ways to help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. These include getting screened, eating healthy, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation and getting regular physical activity,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of the Cancer Services Program Partnership of Oswego County. “Some studies show that not participating in regular physical activity may increase the risk of getting cancer of the colon and rectum. The New York State Department of Health recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week as a way to protect against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.”
Early on, colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms.
If there are symptoms, they may include blood in or on the stool, change in bowel habits, persistent pains, aches, or cramps in the stomach and unexplained weight loss.
While these symptoms may have other causes, it is important to talk to your physician if you experience any of these symptoms.
For more information on colorectal cancer, call 315-342-0888 ext 1454.
Additional information can also be found at http://www.nyhealth.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/abouts/colorectal.htm or http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/
The New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program funds partnerships in each county throughout the State to provide colorectal cancer screenings to uninsured women and men.
To find a Cancer Services Program in your community, visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/cancer/center/partnerships/ or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).