If you are 45 years old or older or have a family history of colorectal cancer, now is the time to talk with your primary care provider about what screening option is right for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women.
It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The CDC also notes that in New York State among all races and ethnicities, the age-adjusted rate of colon and rectum cancer was 32.8 per 100,000 people in 2020. (https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/#/AtAGlance/).
Colorectal (or colon) cancer is a disease where the cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. The colon is the large intestine. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. When screening for colorectal cancer, providers are looking for abnormal growths called polyps, which may turn into cancer over time. Removing any polyps early on may decrease the risk of cancer.
For some people, there are no symptoms of colorectal cancer at first. Most colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. “The only way to determine if a person has polyps or colorectal cancer is through regular screening,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).
“There are several types of screening (stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and CT colonography) and you should talk with your healthcare provider to determine which is best for you. Early detection is key in preventing colorectal cancer and also helps to reduce a person’s risk.”
Choosing to eat healthier has shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer as well as other chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes. People are also encouraged to increase physical activity, keep a healthy weight, limit alcohol consumption and avoid the use of tobacco/nicotine. Talk with your healthcare provider about how you can reduce your risk and when you should start screening for colorectal cancer.
For more information on Health Department programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org or call your respective health department at:
- Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
- Orleans County: 585-589-3278