Let’s face it: your colon isn’t exactly a dinner party topic. It takes a lot of guts to bring up colorectal cancer—to your parents, your spouse, your doctor, your friends. Don’t be afraid to pipe up about the second-leading cancer killer of both men and women, because it’s proven that simple steps save lives.
Here’s how you can Be Gutsy for colorectal cancer prevention:
- Digest some information. CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign gives you the lowdown on what colorectal cancer is and who can get it. (Hint: it’s anybody, but there are ways to lower your risk.) You can hear celebrities like Meryl Streep share how colorectal cancer has affected their lives, share graphics and facts, and even test your knowledge with a quiz.
- Get yourself a little screen time. Be famous for smart choices—there are lots of different screening tests for colorectal cancer. Most colorectal cancer cases happen in people 50 and older, so if you’re between 50 and 75 years old, experts say you should be screened. Remember, the best test is the one that gets done!
- Go history hunting. Some people are at higher-than-average risk for colorectal cancer. If you or a family member has had it before, you could be at risk. You’re also more likely to get it if you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or certain genetic illnesses. Talk to your doctor about whether you should be screened.
- Trust your gut. The point of recommended colorectal screening is finding growths called polyps that can turn into cancer if left alone. But if you’re having symptoms like stomach pains or weight loss for no reason, or if you see blood when you use the bathroom, talk to your doctor. Other problems than cancer can cause these symptoms, too.
- Scale it back. Here’s one a lot of Americans still don’t know: being overweight or obese is associated with at least 13 different types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. Healthy eating and physical activity help keep weight down and lower risk.
- If you drink, think. Drinking too much alcohol can cause your health to take a hit. That includes a higher risk of colorectal and other cancers, as well as other problems that might come up now or later in life.
- Quit for quality of life. Cigarette smoking can cause colorectal cancer and other cancers outside the lungs. If you smoke, you can cut your cancer risk by quitting now. You’ll do friends and family a favor, too, by keeping them away from damaging secondhand smoke.
You have the tools and know-how to lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Be Gutsy and spread the word!