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Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month | Healthwatch 16

Experts say if you wait until symptoms show up to get screened for colorectal cancer, you may have waited too long.

DANVILLE, Pa. — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside to learn about the second-leading cancer killer in the United States.

"Around 50,000 people a year die from colorectal cancers. This is the third-most common malignancy in the United States," said Dr. Sorab Gupta, a hematologist oncologist at Geisinger.

Dr. Gupta. says colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers we have screenings for — the colonoscopy and noninvasive stool-based testing.

Colonoscopies detect cancer in the early stages, which makes it more treatable and curable.

"In the early stage for colorectal cancer, the five-year survival is 90 percent compared to 13 percent for Stage 4 cancer."

If you are at average risk, Dr. Gupta recommends having your first colonoscopy at age 45 and younger if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

"Concerning symptoms include weight loss unintentional, blood in the stool, belly pain, any symptoms — talk to your doctor."

In addition to colonoscopies, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.

"Working out, eating lots of fruits, fibers, and vegetables; losing weight, not drinking, not smoking."

Dr. Gupta recommends being screened for colorectal cancer every ten years.

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