Colorectal Cancer Awareness
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. Approximately 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer each year. At the Missouri Digestive Health Center and Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, our nationally and internationally known specialists provide you with world-class care. Whether you need a colonoscopy to ensure early detection or minimally invasive surgery to treat colon cancer, the most comprehensive digestive health center is right here in your own backyard.
Early Detection is the Key
Help prevent colon cancer by scheduling a routine colonoscopy beginning at age 50. With regular screening, colorectal cancer can be found early when treatment is most effective. Because colon cancer often has no symptoms at all until it's at an advanced stage, this is extremely important. A colonoscopy may find small growths called polyps that can be removed during the test. Most cancers of the colon are caused by polyps that eventually become malignant. But if caught early enough, they rarely result in a fatal cancer. Watch a video from Ellis Fischel Cancer Center's Dr. Wu on the importance of colonoscopies.
What Are the Symptoms?
The following are the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
People who have any of the following symptoms should check with their physicians, especially if they are over 50 years old or have a personal or family history of the disease:
- A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Cramping or gnawing stomach pain
- Decreased appetite
- Weakness and fatigue
- Jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes
The symptoms of colorectal cancer may resemble other conditions, such as infections, hemorrhoids, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is also possible to have colon cancer and not have any symptoms. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Know the Risk Factors
Risk factors for colorectal cancer may include:
- Age - Most people who have colorectal cancer are over age 50, however, it can occur at any age.
- Race - African Americans have the highest risk for colorectal cancer.
- Diet - Colorectal cancer is often associated with a diet high in red and processed meats.
- Polyps - Benign growths on the wall of the colon or rectum are common in people over age 50, and are believed to lead to colorectal cancer.
- Personal history - People who have had colorectal cancer or a history of adenomatous polyps have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
- Family history - People with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative (especially in a parent or sibling before the age of 60 or in two first-degree relatives of any age), have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease - People who have an inflamed lining of the colon have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
- Inherited syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Type 2 diabetes
Test your own risk for colon cancer with an online risk assessment tool.
What Do You Know About Colorectal Cancer?
Take the colon cancer quiz to test your knowledge
Watch and learn about what to expect when having a colonoscopy.
Schedule an Appointment
Schedule a colonoscopy for you or someone you love. Call (573) 882-1434 for an appointment with one of our digestive health specialists today.