Colorectal cancer is a preventable and beatable cancer, and early detection is key to successful treatment. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, there are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors in the U.S. The Alaska Native Epidemiology Center identifies it as the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in the Alaska Native community. Scheduling regular screenings increases the likelihood of identifying cancer in its early stages, contributing to an improved chance of successful treatment. If you experience a change in bowel habits, abdominal discomfort, or rectal bleeding, these are good indicators that you should schedule an appointment with your provider to determine what is going on with your health. If you do experience these symptoms, it does not automatically mean you have colorectal cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened regularly if you are age 50 or older, but for Alaska Native people, it is suggested to begin screening as early as 40.
Be proactive in consulting with your provider; they can help determine which screening option is best for you. CDC suggests some options for screening, which include:• Colonoscopy every 10 years
• Stool DNA test every 1 – 3 years
• CT colonography every 5 years
• Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
You can help prevent colorectal cancer by staying active, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy weight. You should also avoid excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
For more information, talk to your primary care provider.