03/22/2019 Awareness is Key to Combatting Colon Cancer

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

Awareness is Key to Combatting Colon Cancer

This year’s theme for colon cancer awareness month, promoted by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, is “Don’t Assume.”  Supplementally Speaking is happy to participate in their goal of spreading awareness of the disease and reminding people of the common misconceptions and myths around this disease. The goal of this awareness campaign is to remind people not to assume that they’re too young to get the disease, that they are alone in fighting the disease, that the disease can’t be beat, or that there aren’t proactive steps you can take.

The under 50s

While the majority of colorectal cancer patients are over the age of 50, The American Cancer Society recently updated its screening guidelines to include people of average risk to begin screening at age 45 instead of at 50.1  Its rationale for lowering the recommended screening age is that while colorectal cancer incidences and mortality are declining for the over 55 age group, they are increasing for the under 55 age group. 1 Risk factors associated with colorectal cancer include:

  • cigarette smoking
  • excess body weight
  • high consumption of alcohol
  • high consumption of processed meat
  • low consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • low consumption of fiber
  • physical inactivity2

 It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer because in 15-50% of young-onset cases of the disease, doctors have missed the diagnosis.3 If something seems off and you suspect you have the disease, but your doctor doesn’t agree, it’s important to seek a second opinion and advocate for yourself.

Support

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance wants you to know that if you’re diagnosed with the disease, you’re not alone. They have resources for patients and family members available, such as moral support, a helpline, 24 hour chat rooms and financial aid.4 Other resources beyond Colorectal Cancer Alliance exist as well, such as CancerCare®, a non-profit organization that provides free professional support.5 Use these and other resources to become as educated as you can be about the disease, treatment options and self-care.  Share with your friends and families what you need to feel supported.

Hope

Colon cancer survival rates have steadily been rising over the past thirty years thanks to better early detection and treatment options. There are several treatment options depending on the stage of cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Studies are ongoing to find new and improved treatment methods such as identifying biomarkers, personalized medicine and immunotherapy.

Prevention

Your best defense against colorectal cancer is early detection, but there are lifestyle choices you can make to give yourself the best chance of staying healthy. They include:

  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Eating 18 oz  (cooked) or less of red meat per week
  • Avoid processed meats like hot dogs
  • Aim for 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Screen even earlier if you have a family history
  • Eliminate or reduce alcohol
  • Quit smoking

Help spread awareness of this disease by sharing this blog post and using #DontAssume and #CRCAwarenessMonth.

 

References
1 Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from cancer.org/health-care-professionals/american-cancer-society-prevention-early-detection-guidelines/colorectal-cancer-screening-guidelines.html
2 Moore HG. Colorectal cancer: what should patients and families be told to lower the risk of colorectal cancer? Surg Oncol Clin North Am. 2010;19:693‐710.
3 National Cancer Institute State Cancer Profile
4 Patient and Family support. (n.d.). Retrieved from ccalliance.org/patient-family-support
5 Free professional support for anyone affected by cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from cancercare.org/mission

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