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10 Ways to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

10 Ways to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Did you know colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer affecting both American men and women? Overall, it’s the No. 2 cancer killer in the U.S. Here in Frederick County, an estimated 92 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018, and an estimated 36 people died from colorectal cancer.

The good news is that the death rate associated with colorectal cancer has been dropping for many years, due to two factors: more people are being screened earlier, and treatment options are improving.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here are 10 ways that you—and loved ones—can prevent colon cancer.

  1. Routine screenings are the best defense against colorectal cancer.
    Half of all colorectal screenings prevented about 50 percent of the expected new cases and deaths between 2003-2007. Screenings are key! Screenings should begin at the age of 50—or the age of 45 if you have a family history or personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.
    There are several testing options available, including a screening colonoscopy, which your doctor can review with you. And please know that concerns regarding cost need not be barriers. Click here to request a colonoscopy appointment (whether you are insured or not), or to request additional information about colorectal cancer for yourself, a loved one, your organization, or employees.
  2. Share the news.
    Talk to your family and friends about the importance of being screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. We have collected lots of handy resources on our website designed to inform and be shared.
  3. Make sure your diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
    People who eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Additionally, experts advise eating less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some lunchmeats) because those foods are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. See the USDA’s recommendations for healthy eating.
  4. Exercise regularly.
    Studies show that people who increase their physical activity reduce their risk of colorectal cancer. Less active people generally have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Check the American Cancer Society’s activity guidelines for cancer prevention.
  5. Better yet, get active together.
    Encourage your friends, neighbors, and family members to enjoy healthy exercise such as walks or bike rides around your neighborhood or a nearby park together.
  6. Watch your weight.
    The risk of colorectal cancer increases for those who are overweight or obese. Frederick Health ProMotion Fitness supports the global Exercise is Medicine initiative—learn more about joining ProMotion Fitness for guided exercise tailored to your needs.
  7. Quit smoking.
    Studies show that long-term smokers are more likely to develop and even die from colorectal cancer than non-smokers. Frederick Health offers a free six-week Freedom from Smoking program.
  8. Limit your alcohol consumption.
    The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for numerous types of cancers, including colorectal. The American Cancer Society’s guidelines are for men to consume no more than two drinks per day. For women, it’s one drink per day. And one drink is defined as a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Learn more about the links between alcohol and cancer.
  9. Know your family history.
    Having a family history of colorectal cancer may increase your risk. That’s why your doctor may screen you at the age of 45. Tell your doctor about anyone in your family who has had colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, especially your parents, siblings, or children.
  10. Talk to your doctor.
    If you have ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or type 2 diabetes, you may have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Be sure your doctor knows about your diagnoses and conditions.

Want Additional Resources?

Click here for the simple Frederick Health colorectal cancer screening and prevention form, which allows you to:

  • Request a colonoscopy appointment (whether you are insured or not)
  • Request additional information about colorectal cancer (for yourself, for a loved one, for your organization, or your employees)

We list all colorectal screening options in one comprehensive chart, which can be found here. To learn more about colorectal cancer, screening options, shareable graphics, and guides, or to request more information, see the Frederick Health colorectal cancer toolkit.