Of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. Screening can find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure. If you are 45 years old or older, talk to your doctor about getting screened.
- The best way to reduce your colorectal cancer risk is to get screened regularly.
- Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups.
- Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first.
Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Some can be done at home. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
Regular screening is the key to preventing colorectal cancer and finding it early.
- If you’re 45 years old or older, talk to your doctor about getting screened.
- If you’re younger than 45 years old but may have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about when you should start screening.
- Learn your family history of cancer and tell your doctor if you think you may have a higher risk.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get enough physical activity, keep a healthy weight, and limit your alcohol consumption.
- Talk to your doctor if you have blood in or on your stool (bowel movement); abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away; or are losing weight and you don’t know why.