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Colon & Rectal Cancer FAQs

Want to learn more about colorectal cancer and spread the word about the importance of screening for colorectal cancer? Find all the information and resources you need to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and prevent it.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

People in the early stages of colorectal cancer may not show any signs or symptoms.

Others may experience symptoms including:

  • Ongoing changes in bowel habits
  • Narrower stools
  • Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or abdominal cramps
  • Blood in the stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Feeling very tired
  • Unexplained weight loss

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

Men have higher rates of colorectal cancer than women. Men have a 1 in 22 chance of getting colorectal cancer, while women have a 1 in 24 chance. Blacks and Asians have higher rates than whites, with black men having the highest rates of colorectal cancer. More than 90 percent of colorectal cancer occurs in people over the age of 50.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Risk factors you can change:
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Not being physically active
    • Certain types of diets, including those high in red & processed meats & low in vitamin D
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol use
  • Risk factors you cannot change:
    • Being age 50 and older
    • A personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer
    • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
    • Having an inherited syndrome linked to colorectal cancer
    • Your racial and ethnic background
    • Having type 2 diabetes

Who is affected by colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer for men and women combined. In Frederick County, an estimated 92 residents were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018. That same year, 36 Frederick County residents died from colorectal cancer. The incidence rate in Frederick County is 36.9 per 100,000 residents, and the mortality rate is 14.7 per 100,000 residents.

What is the best way to detect colorectal cancer?

Routine screenings for colorectal cancer are your best defense against the disease. Between 2003 and 2007, for example, colorectal screenings prevented about half of expected new cases and deaths.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. There are a few different screening options available. These can be done with a sensitive test that looks at signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test) or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). You can learn more about these screenings here.


What can I do to lower my risk of colorectal cancer?

There are a few ways to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Talk to your doctor about your risk and get screened.
  • If you have a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, talk with your doctor about your risk. You might benefit from genetic counseling to review your family health history.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit alcohol.
Get the Word Out

Anyone can raise awareness about colorectal cancer. Get involved and help us spread the word.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Share this information on your social media outlets and other networks.
  • Host an event in our community and share local health resources.
  • Add information about colorectal cancer to your company’s newsletter.
  • Start a conversation about colorectal cancer—with your friends, family, and doctor.
  • Encourage your loved ones to talk to their doctor about their risk of colorectal cancer and getting screened starting at age 50.
  • Get active together as a family—exercise may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.


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