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Knowledge Is the Key to Colorectal Cancer
Test your knowledge of colorectal cancer by taking the following quiz.
A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack." If blood flow is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing permanent damage.
Cancers of the lung, breast in women, and prostate in men are the only cancers more common than colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that about 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and about 50,000 people die of this cancer annually in the U.S.
But colorectal cancer can occur at younger ages, and the risk increases gradually throughout life. The ACS recommends that anyone age 50 or older have regular screenings for colorectal cancer. The screenings can find and remove small precancerous growths called polyps.
At first, colorectal cancer has few or no symptoms. That's why it's so important to get regular screenings. Symptoms can include blood in or on the stool; a change in bowel habits; stools that are narrower than usual; general stomach discomfort; frequent gas or pains; and unexplained weight loss. See your health care provider if you notice any of these symptoms.
The majority of colorectal cancers develop first as polyps. Colorectal polyps are tiny growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous.
Family history does raise your risk, although most people who develop colorectal cancer don't have a strong family history of it. Other risk factors are increased age (it's more common in those 50 and older); a personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer; being African-American; certain diseases of the bowels; obesity; a diet high in red and processed meats; physical inactivity; heavy alcohol use; and smoking.
Several tests are available:
Researchers have found that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle have a higher risk for colorectal cancer. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a week may lower your risk.
Obesity, like a sedentary lifestyle, appears to increase the risk for colorectal cancer. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, may lower your risk for colorectal cancer.