Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States? What makes these statistics so surprising is that colorectal cancer is also one of the easiest cancers to prevent.
Here’s the truth for five common colon/rectum cancer myths, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man's disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 die from the disease. Overall, a typical person’s lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is one in 19.
Myth: Colorectal cancer can’t 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, typically through screening tests, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts. Any of these tests can find polyps: double contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).
To help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. ACS recommends a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less red or processed meat.
Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer.
Truth: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other United States racial or ethnic group. The reason for this is not yet understood.
Myth: Age doesn't matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.
Truth: Nine out of 10 colorectal cancer cases are in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the ACS recommends you start getting tested for the disease at age 50.