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Caring for your colon even when it's not Colon Cancer Awareness Month

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 08:34:37-04

This article is the part of a monthly series of stories focused on cancer issues. Denver7 is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Colorado Cancer Coalition and Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE to bring you these stories, tips and resources.

When men and women are combined, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In fact, this year in Colorado, an estimated 2,040 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and an estimated 700 people will die from the disease. The incidence of colorectal cancer is swiftly shifting to younger individuals as cases increases in young adults and declines in older age groups.

Thankfully, colorectal cancer is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper screening, doctors can find and remove hidden growths (called “polyps”) in the colon, before they become cancerous. Removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether. This regular screening can also result in finding cancer early, providing greater access to treatment.

With colon cancer on the rise among adults between the ages or 20 and 54, it’s important to be proactive with your health. Follow these tips to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer:

  • Eat a healthy diet, don’t smoke and drink alcohol only in moderation.
  • Get 45 to 60 minutes of regular exercise per week. When you move, your bowels move too!
  • Find out if your family has a history of colon cancer or benign polyps to assess your risk.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have a medical condition that increases your risk of colon cancer, like inflammatory bowel disease, and discuss the right age to start cancer screenings.
  • Know the common symptoms of colon cancer, like rectal bleeding, continuous abdominal pain, fatigue and sudden weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Screening
The Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE, along with the American Cancer Society, recommends that people at average risk begin regular screening at age 45. Individuals with a high or increased risk of colorectal cancer, including people with colon or rectal cancer in their family, should discuss the need for screening before age 45 with their health care provider.

Screening Options
There are many test options, including simple, affordable tests. Talk to your doctor about the right option for you and about whether your health insurance covers tests. The most common tests are stool tests and colonoscopy. Stool tests are performed in the privacy of your home. A colonoscopy is done by a specialist in a hospital or outpatient center.

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Network at HealthONE offers 24/7 access to askSARAH, a phone line designated to help answer your cancer-related questions. Nurses who can connect you to local resources, including a nurse navigator or service representative for appointments, staff the phone line. Contact askSARAH at 303-253-3325 to connect directly to a nurse to help you today.