March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Posted Wednesday March 31, 2021

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.   Last year’s death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman put a spotlight on the deadly disease. He battled colon cancer for four years before dying at 43 years old.  More than 52,000 Americans are expected to die of colorectal cancer in 2021.

African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer of any racial and ethnic group in the United States. These disparities occur due to a number of risk factors, including access to affordable care and screenings, which are essential to improve the incidence and mortality rates.

African Americans are recommended to start screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 45.  This is younger than other racial groups because colorectal cancer manifests at an earlier age. Like many diseases, colorectal cancer can be caught early and treated with recommended screenings.

Regular readers may have noticed that is common theme of my blogs – get screened, get tested, get annual checkups with a medical professional.  Prevention and knowing risks factors are key.  Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Family history or personal history of colorectal cancer
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat prior cancer
  • Family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome
  • Having Type 2 Diabetes

Some of the risk factors listed above may be out of your control.  However, there are things we can do to lower our risk of developing colorectal cancer, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight – obesity raises the risk by 30%
  • Moderate alcohol intake
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eating a balanced diet — limiting red meat processed foods in particular
  • Regular exercise

I know, sounds familiar.  Familiar and true.  If you are 45 or over and have not had a screening, do so soon.  What small step will you take today for yourself to live a healthier life?



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