Here are tips for awareness of colorectal cancer


Colorectal cancer was a major contributor to the death of my father. Since this time I have begun to research more in regards to colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the lower digestive system that starts in the colon or the rectum. The cancer begins with small, noncancerous tumors called polyps. Some of these polyps can become cancerous. If diagnosed and treated early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.

It may be hard to believe, but colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer type for both men and women in the U.S., and at least half of all cases could be prevented by regular testing.

Unfortunately, the cause of most colorectal cancers is not known.

Some factors that might increase your risk of developing the disease are a family history of colon cancer, a low-fiber/high-fat diet, a sedentary/low-activity lifestyle, smoking and heavy use of alcohol. Some groups of people such as diabetics and African-Americans are at greater risk than others.

There are many things you can do to lower your risk of getting colorectal cancer and they include:

Eating right

Choose healthy foods and beverages for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

• Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.

• Choose whole grains.

• Limit red meats and processed meats (like hot dogs and cold cuts/deli meats).

Limit alcohol

• No more than two alcoholic drinks a day for men and one for women.

Active lifestyle

• Maintain a healthy weight.

• Be active — at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, or a combination spread throughout the week.

Be proactive

• If you are age 50 or older, get tested for colorectal cancer.

• Talk with a doctor about which screening test is best for you.

• To find out if you need to start testing earlier or have more frequent tests, talk with a doctor about your medical history and your family history.

• Screening tests offer the best way to prevent colorectal cancer or to find it early. Finding cancer early gives you a better chance for successful treatment.

The following tests find both polyps and cancer

• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or

• Colonoscopy every 10 years, or

• Double contrast barium enema every 5 years, or

• CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years

These tests look inside the colon to find abnormal areas. If polyps are found, they can be removed before they turn into cancer, so these tests can prevent cancer.

If you are over the age of 50 and you have never had any of these test done, talk to your physician to schedule your procedure. There are several risk factors to note in regards to colorectal cancer.

Risk factors are anything that can increase or decrease a person’s chance of getting a disease, such as cancer.

Some factors can be changed and some cannot. However, it is important to be informed of the risk factors. If you are a diabetic, a heavy alcohol drinker and smoker, or obese these are all risk factors.

More information is available. Visit the American Cancer Society (ACS) website at or call 1-800-227-2345 to talk with an ACS cancer information specialist.

For more information contact the MSU Extension at 601-635-7011. This information was revised from the MSU information sheet 1998 “Colorectal Cancer-Health Message.”