What is colorectal cancer?

By Darci Moore, CNP - Fayette County Public Health

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the US and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Colorectal cancer is cancer in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum. Abnormal growths in the colon or rectum are called polyps. If polyps are not found and removed, they can become cancerous. That is why colorectal screenings are so important to have done starting at the age of 45 or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

– Colorectal cancer risk increases with age

– Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases

– Family or personal history of colorectal cancer and or colorectal polyps

– Family history of genetic syndromes including familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

Lifestyle risk factors

– Decreased physical activity

– Obesity

– Tobacco

– Alcohol

– High-fat diet

– Low fiber diet

– Lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet

How can I decrease the risks of colorectal cancer?

– Begin getting colorectal screenings starting at age 45

– Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables

– Eat a diet that is low in animal fat

– Maintain a healthy weight

– Remain physically active

– Limit alcohol

– Avoid smoking

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

– Bloody bowel movements

– Changes in your bowel habits

– Abdominal cramping or abdominal pain that doesn’t go away

– Diarrhea or constipation

– Unexplained weight loss

What are the screening tests for colorectal cancer?

– Stool tests (at-home test that is sent to the lab to check for blood in stool)

– Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years)

– Colonoscopy (every 10 years)

– CT colonoscopy (every 5 years)

How is colorectal cancer treated?

Treatment of colorectal depends on the size, location, and severity of cancer. Some of the common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

If you have any symptoms of colorectal cancer talk to your healthcare provider. If you are age 45 or older talk to your healthcare provider about the best colorectal cancer screening for you. Visit the American Cancer Society at cancer.org for more information.

Darci Moore, CNP, is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at Fayette County Public Health. Darci sees patients through the FCPH Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic with late hours available to meet the needs of patients. Call the office today if you would like to schedule an appointment (740-335-5910).


By Darci Moore, CNP

Fayette County Public Health