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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Have you discussed screening test options with your medical provider? If you are 50 years old or a high risk person, the providers at Lower Umpqua Hospital District encourage you to discuss testing options and prevention tips with your health care professional.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and rectum. Risk factors include: age 50 or older, if you smoke or use tobacco, if you are overweight and/or are not physically active. Drinking alcohol in excess and eating a lot of red and processed meats can increase your risk. If younger than age 50, your risk increases if you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, non-cancerous colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease.

According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, more than 135,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and more than 50,200 will die of the disease. Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer in the United States. There are usually no symptoms in the early stages. As it progresses, people may encounter bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool. There can be a change in bowel habits or stools that are more narrow than normal. General problems in the abdomen, such as bloating, fullness or cramps, can be present, along with diarrhea or constipation. One can lose weight for no apparent reason or feel tired all of the time.

By making conscious decisions to take care of your health, you can prevent colorectal cancer. Prevention tips include being physically active for at least 30 minutes at least five days per week. Remember to consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise routine. Eat healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These are good sources of fiber. Try to eat less red meat and stop eating processed meats. If you smoke, stop.

Colon cancer can be prevented through early detection. Speak with your health care provider about the appropriate screening option for you.

Rosa Solano works as the public relations coordinator at Lower Umpqua Hospital. 

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Umpqua Post Editor