Shedding Light on Colorectal Cancer

By: Aprill Murphy

Amy Olnes, APRN, FNP-C

March marks the onset of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to shine a spotlight on one of the most prevalent yet preventable cancers affecting millions worldwide. Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a significant public health concern, with staggering prevalence rates and associated mortality. However, with increased awareness, early detection, and proactive measures, we can combat this disease effectively.

Prevalence and Mortality: Colorectal cancer ranks among the most commonly diagnosed cancers globally, with approximately 1.9 million new cases and 935,000 deaths reported annually. These statistics underscore the urgent need for heightened awareness and proactive measures to combat this disease.

Risks and Signs: Several risk factors contribute to the development of colorectal cancer, including age, family history, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of colon cancer is crucial for early intervention. These may include persistent changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, unintended weight loss, and fatigue.

Prevention: While certain risk factors, such as age and family history, are beyond our control, adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Embracing a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco can mitigate the risk factors associated with this disease.

Screening Guidelines and Types: Regular screening is paramount for the early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Current guidelines recommend screening for average-risk individuals starting at age 45. Screening methods include colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), fecal immunochemical tests (FIT), sigmoidoscopy, and stool DNA tests. These screenings can detect precancerous polyps or early-stage cancer when treatment is most effective.

Treatment: Advancements in medical science have revolutionized the treatment landscape for colorectal cancer. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the stage of cancer, overall health, and individual preferences.

Blue Light Campaign: The Blue Light Campaign serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of colorectal cancer awareness and prevention. By illuminating landmarks and communities in blue, this initiative aims to spark conversations, promote screening, and save lives.

Take Action: As we commemorate Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, let us commit to prioritizing our colon health. Whether it’s scheduling a screening, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or spreading awareness within our communities, every action counts. Remember, early detection saves lives.

Contact Your Primary Care Provider: Take the first step towards safeguarding your colon health by scheduling a screening with your primary care provider today. Together, we can make strides in the fight against colorectal cancer and ensure a healthier future for all.