In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, 21st Century Oncology, the largest integrated cancer network in the nation, is launching its third-social awareness campaign with the goal of encouraging early detection and preventive screenings for colorectal cancers.
The second leading cancer killer for both men and women, colon cancer is also the most preventable. When detected early, colorectal cancer patients have an 89.9% five-year survival rate. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults without a family history begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. People with a family history of the disease or who have certain other risk factors should talk with their doctor about beginning screening at a younger age.
“There are indicators of colorectal cancer, but that’s often a signal that the disease has progressed,” said Dr. Janette Gaw, a colorectal surgeon with 21co. “The most common warning sign is no warning sign. Get screened. It’s an easy way to prevent a deadly disease.”
Typically, signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer do not appear until it has reached an advanced stage. They include:
- A change in bowel habits
- A feeling of having a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Through its Colorectal Institute in Fort Myers, 21st Century Oncology provides treatment and surgery for colorectal cancers, but the campaign is focused on encouraging early screening before any invasive means are necessary. In the United States, there are more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors; and the likelihood of dying from the disease has decreased due to increased screening.