Colorectal Cancer Warning Signs: Reduce Your Risk

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer you may be eligible to participate in a clinical research study. Massive Bio helps to connect patients who have colorectal cancer to find potential study treatment options, like Takeda’s iintune-1 study. If you are interested in clinical trial participation, visit MassiveBio for more information.
Colorectal cancer (those cancers developing in the colon and rectum) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States.1,2 Colorectal cancer rates are higher in older adults but have been gradually decreasing over the years in this group, while rates have been gradually increasing in those younger than 50 years old.2
Colorectal cancer impacts the Black community at disproportionate rates with African Americans experiencing higher rates than any other ethnic group.3 Black patients are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer.3 Raising awareness of colorectal cancer warning signs, identifying ways to lower risk, and promoting early detection are ways we can work toward lessening the burden.
The American Cancer Society recommends that most people who are not considered high risk for colorectal cancer begin routine screening at age 45.2 If you have been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or have certain genetic conditions you are considered high risk. You should discuss with your healthcare provider to determine when and how often you should be screened.1 Routine screening tests may help detect the presence of polyps that can be removed upon detection to prevent the development of cancer.1 It is possible that you may not experience any symptoms, so early screening and detection is vital.1
Early Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Bowel changes
You may notice changes in the shape or color of your stool. This includes blood in your stool or in the toilet bowl after having a bowel movement. You may also notice changes in your bowel habits. Occasional bowel changes are expected and may be attributed to other factors or health conditions, but prolonged episodes of diarrhea or constipation are not normal and should be further assessed by your healthcare provider.1-4
Abdominal discomfort
You may experience cramping, lower back pain, stomach pain, or bloating. You may also feel the urge to have a bowel movement but are unable to have one. These are all symptoms that are not specific to colon cancer and may be easy to overlook. Be cautious of feelings of discomfort that do not go away or seem to get worse.1-4
Unexplained weight loss
If you notice that you are losing a significant amount of weight either without trying or without making any lifestyle changes or starting any new medications that cause weight loss you should let your provider know as soon as possible.
How Can I Lower My Risk?
Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Research shows that there is a link between practicing healthy lifestyle habits and prevention of colorectal cancer. Here are some practical ways you can make healthier choices and lower your risk.

Improve your diet by incorporating fruits and vegetables, foods high in fiber, and avoiding processed foods.
Incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Try to reach 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week with activities such as bike riding or power walking.
Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Carrying excess weight is related to higher risk of colorectal cancer and worsened outcomes. Making healthier choices can help you obtain and maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol.

Get screened
Don’t wait until you experience symptoms to get screened. Routine screening for colorectal cancer can help detect the presence of cancer before symptoms are noticeable.  Getting screened also promotes early detection and early intervention. Discuss your screening options with your healthcare provider.
If you have been screened and diagnosed with colorectal cancer, consider participating in a clinical trial to receive expert care and contribute to the advancement of colorectal cancer research. Click here to learn more.
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CDC. Colorectal (Colon) Cancer
American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer
American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Rates Higher in African Americans, Rising in Younger People
Colon Cancer Coalition. Colon Cancer Symptoms
American Cancer Society. Six Ways to Lower Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer


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