Colorectal Cancer and the Importance of Screenings

Posted at 10:28 AM on Mar 2, 2021


March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and this is a topic that is not openly talked about enough. This month is an opportunity for everyone to raise awareness about this common type of cancer. Did you know that this is the third most common type of cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, “In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined. It's expected to cause about 52,980 deaths during 2021.” 

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a form of cancer characterized by growths called polyps in either the colon or rectum. It is important to note that not all polyps will become cancerous. You can learn more about what colorectal cancer is by visiting the American Cancer Society’s article, “What Is Colorectal Cancer?”.


There is no way to completely prevent colorectal cancer, but there are steps you can take to decrease your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a nutritious and balanced diet

  • Get regular exercise/activity

  • Limit alcohol consumption

  • Don’t smoke

  • Screenings - the most important step for prevention


Regular screenings are imperative for the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society states, “From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer.” This means screenings can help detect the polyps early before they have a chance to become cancerous and/or find cancer early when it’s small and easy to treat.

These screenings normally begin at the age of 45-50, but family history and other factors may affect this. Check with your physician on when you should be screened and how often. If your screening is normal you likely will only need to be screened every 5-10 years, but this can vary based on your medical history.

Types of Screenings:

  • Fecal occult blood test

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)

  • Sigmoidoscopy

  • Colonoscopy

  • Virtual colonoscopy

  • DNA stool test

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer your doctor will develop a treatment plan. Treatment will vary depending on what stage of cancer the individual has been diagnosed with, but options include:

  • Surgery

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Target drug therapy

  • Immunotherapy

  • Supportive (palliative) care

Schedule Your Screening Today

Let’s make talking about colorectal cancer more normalized. Don’t be afraid to ask your mom, dad, or other loved ones if they have been screened. Awareness is key for the prevention and early detection of this type of cancer. Schedule a screening for yourself or a loved one today to help save a life.

Resources and More Information