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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Part of raising awareness is helping people understand the value and importance of getting regular cancer screenings for early detection as well as symptoms and risk factors. Plus, we’ll also go over some easy ways to help spread awareness this month.

The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

First, let’s talk about why raising awareness about colorectal cancer is so crucial. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in America today. It’s also one of the leading causes of cancer deaths.

On top of that, the American Cancer Society estimates around 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2021.

Through efforts of raising awareness, more people can learn about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings. Early detection may truly help save lives, which is why Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is so important.

Early detection of colorectal cancer may help save lives.

What Causes Colorectal Cancer?

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, although we do know how cancer starts. As your body’s cells age, they eventually die to make room for their new replacement cells.

When this normal life cycle of cell turnover starts to malfunction, the older cells can mutate or form new abnormal cells. These abnormal cells, or cancer cells, may also clump together to form tumors in certain types of cancer.

Colorectal cancer may be more likely in some people due to certain risk factors.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Colorectal Cancer?

So what are the potential factors that may increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer in your lifetime? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that aging may play a part, stating that “about 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older.” This is why many doctors recommend an annual colonoscopy exam and other regular cancer screenings starting around age 50 for most people.

Another possible risk is having a genetic family history of cancer or colon polyps. Also, living with a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, may carry a heightened risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Age, genetic history, and lifestyle may play a role in the development of colorectal cancer.

In addition to the above, certain several other lifestyle-related factors that research indicates may increase the risk of colon cancer and/or rectal cancer.

Lifestyle-related risk factors may include:
  • Inactive or sedentary lifestyle
  • Alcohol or tobacco use
  • Diet high in red meats (such as beef) or processed meats (such as hot dogs and sandwich meat)
  • Obesity

The good part about the above lifestyle-related risk factors is that you can make changes in your life today to help reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. For example, you may want to quit smoking or drinking as much alcohol. Getting more physical activity each day, reducing the amount of red or processed meats you eat, and losing excess weight may also help reduce that risk.

What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Here’s the thing you may not have expected about colorectal cancer. It doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms. Someone could have colorectal cancer and never be aware of it. That’s the reason why annual cancer screenings are so significant for early detection.

Possible symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:
  • Bloody stool or bleeding from the rectum
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unintended sudden weight loss
  • Lasting changes in bowel habits that vary between diarrhea and constipation

Please note that these symptoms could also indicate other issues or illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re experiencing these or other unusual symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You can discuss your symptoms with them and get tests run for an accurate diagnosis.

Tests to diagnose colorectal cancer may include a digital rectal exam, blood tests, a colonoscopy, and/or internal imaging tests such as ultrasounds.

Doctors often recommend an annual colonoscopy starting at age 50

What’s Next After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis?

Tests to diagnose colorectal cancer may include a digital rectal exam, blood tests, a colonoscopy, and/or internal imaging tests such as ultrasounds.

After a colorectal cancer diagnosis, your healthcare provider will discuss potential treatment options with you. Options for treatment may vary, depending on the stage of the cancer diagnosis.

Treatment options may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or surgery to remove cancer. In addition, severe cases may require the removal of part or all of the bowel, which can lead to having an ostomy.

Colostomy Surgery for Colorectal Cancer

Not everyone who has colorectal cancer will need to have ostomy surgery. However, if the doctor needs to remove portions of the colon or rectum, a colostomy may sometimes be necessary.

Whether you’re facing ostomy surgery after a colorectal cancer diagnosis or if you’re new to living with your colostomy pouch after surgery, 180 Medical is here for you. As a leading ostomy supply company with years of experience in helping our customers, we understand that this diagnosis is incredibly stressful. That’s why we work hard to give you the best service possible so that getting your colostomy supplies isn’t an extra hassle.

Our Ostomy Specialists will help you navigate your colostomy product options. Plus, our customers can also access a team of certified ostomy nurses for additional needs. Contact 180 Medical to start today.

contact 180 Medical for colostomy supplies

How to Take Part in Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Chances are you or someone you know has been impacted by colorectal cancer. The good news is that we can all pitch in to help raise awareness!

Use the Power of Social Media to Reach Others

The easiest way to spread awareness this month is to use your social media accounts. Share helpful facts and statistics, or if you’re feeling brave, share your story of how your life has been impacted by colorectal cancer.

Dress in Blue for Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Why dress in blue? Blue is the color for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, people join together from all over the country to wear blue on National Dress in Blue Day, which occurs on the first Friday of March annually.

180 Medical always likes to take part in Dress in Blue Day because it’s such an impactful way to help raise awareness.

Participate in a Fundraiser for Colorectal Cancer

Also, another way to participate is by taking part in fundraising events. These fundraisers help aid screening awareness programs for early detection and research for a cure. Plus, many organizations, such as the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, offer support for affected individuals and their families too.

For example, you may want to check out the Walk to End Colon Cancer through the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. They hold walks in major cities across the country throughout the year. You can participate individually or with a team or even volunteer to work at a local event.

Whatever you choose to do, you’re making an impact. Doing your part to raise awareness can really help save lives!

Disclaimer: Please do not take this article as medical advice or use it in place of a visit, call, or consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

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About the Author
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for 15 years. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).