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Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness Newsletter
March 2021
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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., yet it can be prevented or detected at an early stage. In Maine, colorectal cancer is ranked fourth in both new cancer cases and cancer deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates 149,500 new colorectal cancer cases in the U.S. 670 new colorectal cases were reported in Maine in 2020.

Colorectal cancer may be preventable with screening tests. Most colon cancers develop from polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find polyps before they are cancer. Polyps can be easily removed to lower your risk of cancer.

Both men and women can get colorectal cancer. Regular screening is recommended for all adults who are 50 to 75 years old. African Americans should begin screening at 45 years old. Individuals with a first-degree relative with cancer should be screened with a colonoscopy 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of their first-degree relative.

Risk factors include:

  • Age of 50+
  • Family history of polyps, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain genetic syndromes
  • Eating lots of red meat, processed foods, or fatty foods
  • Low physical activity levels
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol use

Symptoms may not be noticeable, and pre-cancerous polyps and early stage colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Pains, aches, or cramps in your stomach that do not go away
  • Unexpected weight loss

Lifestyle changes may lower your risk of colorectal cancer. In addition to regular screenings, maintaining a healthy weight, living a physically active lifestyle, and eating a healthy diet can lower risk. Avoid all tobacco products, and if you drink alcohol, keep consumption moderate.

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