By the American Cancer Society
In many cases, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Still, it’s one of the five most common cancers in men and women in the United States. Colorectal cancer is also one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. Don’t let these common myths stop you from getting the life-saving tests you need, when you need them.
Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it.
Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.
Truth: In many cases colorectal cancer can be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts.
These tests can find polyps: double-contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.
Other ways to help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer:
• Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life; stay lean without being underweight.
•Be physically active; limit the time you spend sitting, lying down, watching TV and more.
• Eat at least 2 and a half cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
• Choose whole grains over refined grain products.
•Limit the amount of red meat and processed meat you eat.
• If you drink alcohol, limit the amount to one drink per day for women, two per day for men.
• Don’t use tobacco in any form.
Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.
Truth: About 90 percent of all colorectal cancers are found in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting checked for this cancer when you are 50.
People who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer — such as those who have colon or rectal cancer in their families — may need to begin testing when they are younger. Ask your doctor when you should start getting tested and how often you should be tested.
Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early (while it’s small and before it has spread), the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
To find out if you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer and what you can do to help decrease your chances of getting this disease, please visit www.cancer.org.
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