Early detection made the life-or-death difference for most of the million people who have survived the second greatest cause of cancer deaths in the United States. National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is here to remind us once again that awareness is the key.

Projecting 4,630 new cases of colorectal cancer per day – and 1,650 deaths per day – the American Cancer Society is just one of the organizations dedicated to using March as an annual observance for raising awareness of the disease.

Often called colon cancer for short, colorectal cancer occurs in the large intestine, about five feet of tube-like tissue that works to harvest water and salts from the food we eat, after other nutrients have been extracted in the small intestine. Together, the intestines are the last two stages in the gastro-intestinal (GI) system that converts what we eat into nourishment.

The Key to Detection

Certain changes in bowel habits can be signs of colorectal cancer, but many cases advance without symptoms, and, in fact, most people with early colorectal cancer don’t have symptoms at all. That’s why regular screenings after the age of 50 are recommended.

Family medical history is step one for screening because there is a hereditary factor in risks. Your physician will feel externally for lumps or swollen organs from outside the abdomen. Blood tests can reveal signs of colorectal cancer too from a number of markers, including complete blood count (CBC), liver enzymes, and tumor markers such as CEA and CA 19-9.

Prevention as a Way of Life

The same lifestyle choices, habits and patterns that reduce our risk of heart disease and diabetes can also give us better odds of living without colorectal cancer, so reducing your risk of colorectal cancer is one of the many “two birds with one stone” facets of preventative healthcare.

A dialogue with your family doctor is the basis around which prevention and detection of every kind can revolve. Why not schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine to talk about how to guard your kidneys’ vital function? Call us at 843-815-6468.