March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

By the Gallatin City-County Health Department’s Cancer Screening Program

 

Are You Up to Date? 

Each year, 500 Montanans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

As we step into spring, a time of renewal, it’s important to also renew our knowledge of colorectal cancer. Most people affected by this cancer are above 50 years in age. Colorectal cancer typically starts in growths called polyps; particularly adenomatous polyps which are precancerous. This is why screening is important. A colonoscopy can detect and remove most polyps, and therefore (in some cases) it can prevent this cancer from occurring or catch this cancer early on. Regular screening is key!

 

Screenings

Adults aged 50 to 75 should get regular colorectal screenings. Screenings that are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for men and women at average risk include: A highly sensitive FOBT/FIT (fecal occult blood test or stool cards) every year OR flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a FOBT done at year 3 OR a colonoscopy every 10 years. Talk to your doctor to discuss your screening options, family history and risk factors.

 

Are You At Risk? 

Certain factors can raise your chances of colorectal cancer, including:

Age: Most cases of colorectal cancer appear after age 50.

Tobacco Use: Tobacco use is linked to colorectal cancer.

Being Overweight or Obese: These conditions are linked to colorectal cancer.

Personal and Family History: If you have had colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps, or a first degree relative (parent, sibling, offspring) has had precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer, get screened earlier than age 50.

 

How to Protect Yourself

  • Get screened
  • Do not use tobacco
  • Exercise to maintain a healthy weight
  • Know your body

 

For more information on cancer and support resources, please visit our Disease and Conditions page and click on Cancer Screening.

If you are looking for support resources, please click on Cancer Support and Resources.