Preventive Care

Five Things Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Colorectal Cancer

Knowledge is power.

A screening could save your life. Schedule your colon cancer screening today. 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States, but there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. Knowing your risk, undergoing regular screenings and making healthy choices are just a few ways. Check out these must-know facts, so you can reduce your risk and take charge of your health.


Fact #1: Symptoms may be hard to ID

Colorectal cancer shares symptoms with many digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and even hemorrhoids. But in its earliest stages, colorectal cancer has virtually no symptoms, so regular screening after age 50 is vital for prevention and, if necessary, treatment. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or another digestive issue, like Crohn’s, you may need to start screening earlier.


Fact #2: There are uncontrollable and controllable risk factors

Risk factors you can’t control include your age (your risk jumps after age 50) or family history. But avoiding unhealthy habits—like eating a high-fat, low-fiber diet, smoking or not exercising—can help reduce your risk.


Fact #3: Screening is key

Current screening guidelines recommend colonoscopies every 10 years or other methods of screening every five years for a person with average risk. Even though colorectal cancer is slow to spread, screening can help detect cancer in its earlier stages when it’s easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened based on your age, family history and health history, and which type of screening is best for you.


Fact #4: Survival rates are high

The earlier cancer is caught, the better your chances of successful treatment. At stage I, colon cancer has a 92 percent five-year survival rate, and rates remain high for stages II and III. Rectal cancer has similar survival rates.


Fact #5: Surgery is used for treatment—but it’s quick

Most surgeries for colorectal cancer are minimally invasive, which means smaller incisions and faster recovery time. In fact, many patients can leave the hospital three to five days after colorectal cancer surgery.

Remember: Being screened and diagnosed can be scary, but you don’t have to go it alone. Developing the right support system and being fully informed can help you take charge of your health and live better, despite your diagnosis.


Looking for other ways to improve your health and reduce your colorectal cancer risk?

Check out for ideas.