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Colorectal Cancer: Are You At Risk, And When Should You Call?

Colorectal cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that begins in either the large intestine (also called the colon) or the rectum. Tumors begin as polyps in the digestive lining and develop into

dangerous growths over time.

Colorectal is one of the most common types of cancer -- doctors estimate that it accounted for 7.8% of all cases in 2023. During their lives, 4.1% of people can expect to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. However, the risk isn’t distributed evenly across the population: black people and those over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed.

Certain other risk factors also increase the chances of a diagnosis, including chronic bowel disease, a family history of colorectal polyps, a high-fat diet, a lack of exercise, and heavy use of alcohol or tobacco.

The first noticeable symptoms may include unexplained weight loss, difficult bowel movements, blood in your stool, diarrhea or cramps. If you experience any of these, make an appointment with your SAC Health physician immediately.

The good news: the death rate from colorectal cancer is decreasing. 65% of patients can expect to survive for at least five years, and many for longer. However, catching the cancer early is crucial for improving your prognosis.

Because colorectal cancer begins as a harmless polyp, patients won’t experience symptoms right away. Doctors urge everybody over 45, and anyone with the risk factors, to get screened regularly. Call a SAC Health primary care physician to schedule a screening appointment and get informed about risk factors that may apply to you.

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