Anybody can get colorectal cancer.

Posted by Kayla Phillips on

Any age. Any gender. Any fitness level. 

Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is a disease of the colon or rectum, which are parts of the digestive system. Unlike most cancers, colorectal cancer is often preventable with screening and highly treatable when detected early.

Most cases of colorectal cancer occur in people ages 45 and older, but the disease is increasingly affecting younger people. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease and more than 50,000 die.

Colorectal cancer may develop without symptoms. If you are 45 or older and at average risk, it's time to get screened. 

Risk factors

While anyone can develop colorectal cancer, a few conditions can increase risk. 

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
  • A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
  • Black/African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews are at higher risk

Common symptoms

Colorectal cancer often develops without symptoms. When they occur, symptoms may include: 

  • Blood in or on stool
  • Persistent unusual bowel movements like constipation or diarrhea
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
  • Losing weight for no reason

Colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, particularly at first. Someone can have colon cancer or rectal cancer  and not know it. That's why every person should get screened starting at age 45. People at higher risk may need to get checked earlier, according to their risk factors.  

When they occur, symptoms may include: 

Changing bowel habits 

Changing bowel habits may include intermittent or constant diarrhea and/or constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool, or stools that are more narrow than usual.

Persistent abdominal discomfort

Abdominal discomfort may present as cramps, gas, or pain. You may also feel full, bloated, or like your bowel is not completely empty. Nausea and vomiting can also be a symptoms.

Rectal bleeding

Blood in or on your stool is a symptom of rectal cancer and colon cancer. The blood can be bright red, or the stool may be black and tarry or brick red.

Weakness and/or fatigue 

Weakness and/or fatigue may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Weakness and/or fatigure may be accompanied by anemia or a low red blood cell count.

Unexplained weight loss

A loss of weight for no known reason should always be investigated. Nausea and/or vomiting are also possible symptoms.

More about CRC

Phillips Pharmacy Colon CancerMost colorectal cancers start as an abnormal tissue growth, called a polyp, inside the colon or rectum. With the help of screening tests, doctors can detect polyps, remove them, and prevent them from developing into colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the US among men and women combined. But it is highly treatable when it is discovered early. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is very effective.

In the most advanced  cases — when the cancer has spread to the liver, lungs, or other sites — chemotherapy can often make surgery an option, prolonging and adding quality to life. Research is ongoing to learn more about this disease and provide more hope to people with all stages of colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer affect people of all ages, ethnicities, and lifestyles — no one is immune.

Yet we have a powerful defense against this disease: screening. With screening — the process of detecting cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (known as polyps) — colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers.

In fact, some experts believe an uptake in screening over the past couple decades has contributed, at least in part, to declining incidence rates of colorectal cancer in older adults.

The fact is, routine screening is recognized as the most effective way to reduce risk, and the United States Preventive Services Task Force says screening should begin at age 45 for average-risk individuals.

So how do screenings prevent colorectal cancer?

That’s a matter of polyps and timing.

The development of colorectal cancer can take about 10 years, though some people may experience faster or slower growth.

Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp. While most polyps are harmless, a small fraction could develop into a precancerous condition and then cancer.

Before these polyps have time to become cancerous, polyps of any nature can be spotted and removed during a colonoscopy.

If a doctor removes a polyp that had the potential to become cancerous if left to grow, then he or she may have prevented colorectal cancer.

In addition to colonoscopy, a variety of screening methods exists to determine whether an individual has a precancerous condition or cancer, though these tests have different sensitivities.

The stool DNA test from Cologuard can detect evidence of the highest risk pre-cancers and early cancer using both blood and DNA analysis. A fecal immunochemical test or FIT test analyzes blood in the stool. If precancer or cancer is detected in either of these options, a doctor will order a colonoscopy for further evaluation.

Unfortunately, millions of people skip screening and pass on a crucial opportunity to find and treat precancerous conditions or early cancer. It is critical to identify cancer in an early or local stage before it spreads and becomes more difficult to treat.

Patients have a 91 percent five-year survival rate when colorectal cancer is found at an early stage but just a 15 percent when cancer is found in an advanced stage and has spread to distant organs.




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Disclaimer of Medical Advice:

You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.

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