Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. Although the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for the past 30 years, it is still the third leading cause of cancer death for both men and for women in the U.S.
- There are currently more than one million colorectal cancer survivors in the U.S.
- The overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women.
- With regular screenings, colorectal cancer can be preventable.
- The age for colorectal cancer screening is now 45 years instead of 50 years.
- Several factors may place you at a higher risk for colorectal cancer, including age, personal history of polyps or cancer, inflammatory bowel disorders, type 2 diabetes, family history, genetics and lifestyle choices, such as low physical activity, obesity, smoking, moderate to heavy alcohol use, very low intake of fruits and vegetables, and diets high in red and processed meats.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2021
Signs and Symptoms
A symptom is a change in the body that a person can see and/or feel. A sign is a change that the doctor sees during an examination or on a laboratory test result. If you have any of the symptoms below, it does not mean you have cancer but you should see your doctor or health care professional so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Source: American Cancer Society 2021
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is recognized in March. To help accelerate cures please make a gift today.
Researchers Working on Colorectal Cancer
Vitamin-D Rich Foods & Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. However, recent studies suggest there may be an effective way to reduce one’s risk. A team of researchers recently shared their exciting findings showing that eating greater amounts of vitamin D may help against developing colorectal cancer, particularly for those under age 50. The team analyzed data from nearly 95,000 women participating in a long-term study about diet and lifestyle. They found that those with high amounts of vitamin D in their diets—particularly from dairy products—had a 50% lower risk of developing young-onset colorectal cancer than those with lower amounts of the vitamin. Over the past decade, medical professionals have recorded a steady decline in colorectal cancer diagnoses. The decline has been attributed to the availability of effective screening and better adoption of lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercise. However, that decline does not apply to younger people. In fact, colorectal cancer rates have been rising at an increased rate amongst people under 40. A Growing Concern Academics and government experts have joined forces to solve the mystery of the rapid increase. However, the puzzle remains unsolved mainly. One of the most likely determinants is diet amongst this age group. The group of experts identified that in addition to not eating enough fruits and vegetables, this age group was deficient in vitamin D. Further exploring this matter, researchers looked at data broken down between vitamin D absorbed via dietary sources and vitamin D absorbed from a supplement. Shockingly, the results were more favorable among participants who absorbed vitamin D from dietary sources. So, how can vitamin D be added to a diet? Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means that it doesn’t dissolve in water and absorbs better when paired with some kind of fat. Meaning it’s more effective to choose dairy products that aren’t nonfat as the fat in the dairy helps to facilitate the body’s absorption of vitamin D. However, sources other than dairy help the body meet its vitamin D quota. Salmon Salmon is a popular fatty fish and an excellent source of vitamin D. On average, wild-caught salmon packs 124% of the daily recommended value (DV) per 100 grams. It is important to note that farmed fish often have less vitamin D; however, it still surpasses 25% of the DV on average. Check out a tasty salmon recipe here. Egg Yolks Eggs can hold a significant amount of vitamin D. Still, it can vary greatly depending on sun exposure and the vitamin D content of the chicken feed. When given the same meal, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels 3–4 times higher. On average, a typical egg yolk contains 5% of the DV. However, eggs from chickens given vitamin-D-enriched feed may have up to 7 times the DV! Try a tasty recipe to sneak some eggs onto the dinner plate here. Mushrooms Mushrooms are magical fungi that positively impact health in a variety of ways. Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only good non-animal source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can synthesize […]
Coping With Cancer—It’s Different for Everyone
Everyone’s journey with cancer is different, also unique to them is the way in which they cope with the disease. Taking two late celebrities, Alex Trebek and Chadwick Boseman as an example, we can see the differences in how individuals deal with a cancer diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer may only rank at number nine and ten in terms of most commonly diagnosed cancers amongst men and women (respectively), but most Americans are well aware of the disease ever since Jeopardy host Alex Trebek was diagnosed last year. The deadly disease has a low five-year-survival rate at only 9%. Most Americans are well aware of the disease ever since the late Jeopardy host Alex Trebek was diagnosed in 2019 and sadly passed away in November 2020. Though undoubtedly a trying year for Trebek, his loved ones, and his fans, the game show host publicly battled his cancer with his return to Jeopardy in September 2020. A year-and-a-half after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Trebek became an inspiration for many affected by pancreatic cancer. Despite the side effects, which include fatigue, Trebek returned to the Jeopardy stage to do what he loved most. His passion for living life had his recently published memoir flying off the shelves. Appropriately titled ‘The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life’, the memoir explores Trebek’s entire life to date – including his childhood through to his life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the memoir is not a story specifically about his cancer journey, Trebek used his fame to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer. In partnership with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, Trebek participated in a worldwide awareness initiative wherein he encouraged the public to know the risk factors and the symptoms of the deadly disease. His fame sparked conversation about pancreatic cancer while showing the patients across the world that cancer does not define a person. While Trebek made great efforts to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer, some celebrities choose not to use their diagnosis to spearhead conversation. Actor Chadwick Boseman battled colon cancer before passing away in mid-2020. Unlike Trebek, he chose to keep his journey private. After his death, however, a wave of colon cancer awareness flooded the world. Both Trebek and Boseman are beloved by their fans; however the differences between their journeys with cancer highlight that, even as a celebrity, a cancer diagnosis is an extremely personal experience. For Trebek, raising awareness and talking about his difficult prognosis helped him cope with the news. Boseman found strength in continuing his life as normal, only discussing his cancer treatment with those closest to him. Trebek and Boseman are perfect and timely examples of how each person copes differently. There is no correct way to deal with a cancer diagnosis – whether a new diagnosis or an ongoing experience. Like many aspects of life, seeing someone else handle a situation differently can cause doubt with one’s own approach. However, as Trebek and Boseman nobly demonstrated, deciding whether to speak about a cancer diagnosis publicly is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong way for any patient to navigate such a decision. Each journey […]