Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and/or rectum that forms in the tissues of the longest part of the large intestine. The National Institutes of Health (www.cancer.gov) estimate that there are already 143, 460 new cases of colorectal cancer in 2012 and 51, 690 have resulted in death. Believe it or not, however, it remains one of the most easily prevented cancers because the polyps from which it develops can be removed before they become cancerous.
One reason more cases are not prevented may be the fact that symptoms are rare in the early stages of colorectal cancer. Screening tests have proven very effective but the larger problem is that many find themselves too embarrassed to discuss colorectal cancer with friends, family, or even healthcare providers. Many choose to remain in the dark on preventive measures and others choose to place stock in myths and misconceptions instead of getting the straight facts from a trusted source.
No one needs to stay in the dark. Learning about colorectal cancer is possible even within the privacy of your own home through Web sites such as cancer.gov and preventcancer.org or through local resources, such as the MD Anderson Cancer Center. All men and women age 50 and older should be screened as should anyone with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. You can obtain information about risk factors, how hereditary is involved, and what type of screenings are available from your healthcare provider, as well. By doing these things, you will have conquered the crucial first step: understanding and talking about colorectal cancer.
Knowledge is power but it is not enough. Regular screenings can identify colorectal polyps, possibly before they ever even become cancerous. Scientific evidence also shows that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight with a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains may significantly reduce your risk. You should avoid all tobacco products and if you consume alcohol; do so in moderation. Not only will these steps decrease your risk factors for cancer but they will also help you increase the quality and quantity of your life. Researchers believe up to ninety percent of colorectal cancer cases could be eliminated yearly but it has to start with you and the choices you make everyday.
You do have the power to prevent colorectal cancer once you get the facts, get healthy and get screened. Just don't stay in the dark because, in this case, what you don't know can kill you.
Sources: www.cancer.gov Feb. 2012
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