By The American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons
Avoiding alcohol, regular exercise, and sticking to a healthy diet are just a few of the ways you can reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
Six Steps To Lowering Your Risk Of Colorectal Cancer
- Get regular colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 50. If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, or a personal history of another cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your doctor about earlier screening.
- Eat between 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day from fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and cereals, nuts and beans.
- Eat a low-fat diet.
- Eat foods with folate such as leafy green vegetables.
- If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers. If you use tobacco, quit. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start.
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening, or climbing steps may help reduce your risk.
Self-Test on Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon and rectum – is the second leading cancer killer in the United States and all women and men aged 50 and older are at risk. The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable and, if detected early, curable.
Depending upon your age and family history, you could be at risk for developing this disease. If you answer “yes” to any of the following five questions, talk to your colorectal surgeon or other healthcare provider about getting screened for colorectal cancer (screening means getting tested for a disease even if you don’t have symptoms):
- Are you aged 50 or older?
- Has a parent, brother, sister or child of yours had colorectal cancer?
- Has a parent, brother, sister, or child of yours had colon polyps?
- Do you have a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease?
- Talking With Your Health Care Provider About Colorectal Cancer
Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Screening
Screening tests for colorectal cancer can save 30,000 lives each year. These tests not only detect colorectal cancer early, but can prevent colorectal cancer. In one test, non-cancerous polyps are removed before they become cancer. When you turn 50 years old, or if you are younger and have a family or personal history of colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or breast, uterine or endometrial cancer, you need to talk to your health care provider about colorectal cancer screening tests.
Here are 12 questions to help you begin this important conversation:
- I just turned 50 years old. Should I be tested for colorectal cancer?
- I don’t have any family history of colorectal cancer or of colorectal polyps. Should I still be screened? Or….. My medical history and/or family medical history put me at an increased risk for colorectal cancer; should I be screened at a younger age and more often?
- I understand there are a number of screening tests available, would you tell me about each of these tests and the pros and cons of each?
- I don’t know which screening test is appropriate for me now. Which test do you recommend and why?
- Will you perform the test? If not, who will?
- Will I be awake or asleep during the test?
- Will the test hurt?
- How will I learn the results of the test?
- What kind of follow-up care will I need if the tests show a problem?
- If the tests show nothing wrong, when should I be tested again?
- What is the cost of these tests? Will my insurance cover the cost?