Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed among both men and women, as well as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. And unfortunately, colorectal cancer rates are rising for Americans under the age of 50 with an increase of 12% in this age group.
The American Cancer Society recommends colorectal screening begin at age 45 for individuals with average risk. If you have a family history or other risk factors, then your doctor may recommend earlier screenings. These recommendations align with recent guidelines put out by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which hopefully will increase insurance coverage for screenings before the age of 50. With that said, even with these new recommendations, not all colorectal cancer will be caught since it can show up in your 20s and 30s. That is why it’s vital to listen to your body and speak with your physician if you feel something may not be right.
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
You may not show any signs or symptom from colorectal cancer right away, however, pay attention to any of the following symptoms that could be a sign of colorectal cancer.
- A change in bowels including diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stools lasting more than a few days
- Feeling that you still need to have a bowel movement just after having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Stools that appear dark brown or black, which is a sign of blood in the stools
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness, fatigue or unintended weight loss
How to Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Although you cannot always prevent cancer due to genetic factors and other unknown causes, you can take the following steps to lower your risk:
- Consume a healthy, balanced diet including plenty of fiber found in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- See your physician for your annual physical
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated
“Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults?” cancer.gov, accessed Nov. 9, 2020.
“Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer,” cancer.org, accessed Nov. 9, 2020.
“Colon Cancer Rates In Younger Adults Are Rising,” henryford.com, accessed Nov. 9, 2020.