March ushers in the arrival of spring and often an urge to “spring clean,” by organizing, cleaning, and putting things in order in preparation for the lighthearted feel of sun, flowers, family, and fun coming our way. There’s a sense of renewal and refreshment that’s hard to resist. The arrival of spring is the perfect time to take stock of your health as well as your home. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, a timely reminder to screen for this preventable and treatable disease.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) refers to cancers of both the colon and the rectum. While this cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined in the U.S. and the second most deadly cancer of both men and women combined, the good news is that it’s often preventable with screening and highly treatable when detected early!
CRC starts as an abnormal tissue growth, known as a polyp, inside the colon or rectum. With the help of screening tests, doctors can detect and remove polyps, preventing cancer from forming.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
While CRC may not cause noticeable symptoms (that’s why regular screening is so important!), there are symptoms you can watch for. These include changing bowel habits, persistent abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, weakness, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.
When should you see your doctor? Earlier is better! Since symptoms can be vague or related to something else, your doctor will want to investigate and determine which screening method is most appropriate for you and which lifestyle recommendations they can make. The average lifetime risk for men is 1 in 23, and for women, it’s 1 in 25. Early detection can save lives!
Preventing Colorectal Cancer
There are many daily life choices you can make to actively promote colon health and reduce your risk of developing CRC.
- Drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day
- Increase your fiber intake with fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Look for opportunities to try out new leafy green vegetables like spinach and collard greens. Switch out white bread for whole wheat, white rice for brown rice or barley, white pasta for whole wheat or lentil-based pasta.
- Add regular exercise to your habits. Spring is the perfect time to take a walk, soak up some vitamin D, and enjoy watching the trees and flowers come back to life.
- Quit smoking
- Listen to your body and have regular bowel movements.
Screening is the number one way of detecting polyps in the colon or rectum and preventing cancer development. Doctors can most easily treat CRC when it’s discovered early and there are several different screening methods to help them detect a growing cancer even without obvious symptoms. When doctors find CRC early, the survival rate is as high as 90%. Screening for CRC should start at age 45.
There are three common screening methods used to detect CRC in the body. When your doctor utilizes these methods, you are most likely to catch CRC in its early and most treatable form.
- Every ten years: Colonoscopy – A simple and safe procedure in which your doctor uses a long tube with a light and camera to detect and remove polyps.
- Every three years: Stool DNA – An at-home kit to test for abnormal DNA in the stool.
- Every year: FIT (Fecal Immunity Test) – An inexpensive at-home test for blood in the stool.
Get Support and Get Screened
Dr. Andrew Albert is known in Chicago for his grassroots work in education on CRC and the importance of screening by utilizing both the commonly known colonoscopy and the other less invasive screening methods. “Many think it’s colonoscopy or nothing, and that’s simply untrue. Lives can be saved by stool-based testing.”
Head into summer fun knowing you’ve taken the step to detect and prevent CRC. Not sure where to start? You don’t have to do it alone. An in-home caregiver can help you navigate the steps you may want to take with your diet and exercise habits. They can also help connect you with your doctor or by taking this quick screening quiz to get started.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.