By Dr. Mark Leenay
In recognition of March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it is time to talk with your healthcare professional and see if you need a colorectal cancer screening!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of adults over 50 – which is when 90 percent of new colorectal cancer cases occur – are up-to-date with getting their screening.
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find these abnormal growths so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. If polyps have already turned cancerous, screening tests increase the likelihood that these growths will be found early, when treatment works best.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
If you think you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about:
- When to begin screening
- Which test is right for you
- How often to get tested
If you believe you are at risk, schedule a colorectal cancer screening with your health professional today…It could truly be a lifesaver!
Dr. Mark Leenay is WellCare’s executive vice president and chief medical officer