Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. March is national colorectal cancer awareness month, so there is never a better time than now to learn what you should look out for.
There are more than 200,000 cases of colorectal cancer each year.
“When he told me that we found a tumor and ‘you have cancer’, I couldn’t even hear the rest of what he was saying,” said cancer patient, Kevin Hays.
Hays never thought he could get colon cancer at age 28.
Hays continued, “I had some symptoms of colon cancer, just didn’t see it coming.”
Some of the most commonly overlooked signs are cramps, fatigue, and sudden weight loss. And pay attention to irregular bowel movements or signs of blood. Patrick Boland, MD, at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute has seen patients dismiss their symptoms.
“We know there’s a longer duration between the onset of symptoms and when they’re actually diagnosed because no one suspects colon or rectal cancer,” Dr. Boland shared.
Two more telltale signs are shortness of breath or a diagnosis of anemia, which signals internal bleeding. If you notice dizziness, fatigue, or unusual skin paleness, get checked for anemia and then follow with a colon cancer test.
Doctor Patricia Raymond from the American College of Gastroenterology says it is not uncommon for patients to bleed internally for up to six months before anything shows up in their stool. You can lower your risk by as much as 45 percent just by maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and exercise routine.