Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Do You Know When To Get Screened?

Did you know that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month?

Oh man, but we’re way too young to be worrying – let alone talking – about our colons.

That’s not necessarily the case.

I was in college when I had my first colonoscopy. I have never forgotten how outwardly puzzled the nurses were, how they commented on my age, looking at my chart, then me, my chart, then me.

What puzzled me was that it was that unusual for someone young to be in their room, and to me, that spelled a lack of awareness. (Not to mention how annoying it was to have to explain why I was there each time.)

It’s true that if you don’t have abnormal risk factors, screenings generally begin at age 50.

However, my mother was diagnosed at 32, and passed away at 34.

The American Cancer Society recommends that anyone with first-degree family history begun getting tested at age 40, or 10 years before their relative’s age at diagnosis, whichever is EARLIER.

If you have relatives that were diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 60 or older, you should still be tested beginning at 40 instead of 50.

I am 36 years old and at this point, I get ‘scoped every two years. It’s not fun, but you know what? Neither is the dentist. Or taxes. Or a slew of other activities that we take care of on a day-to-day basis.

It’s my health. And it’s not just about me – There are two little peanuts who are banking on me sticking around for a while.

Look at the numbers. The ACS states:

The relative 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer when diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread is about 90%. But only about 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at that early stage. Once the cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the 5- year relative survival rate goes down, and if cancer has spread to distant organs (like the liver or lung) the rate is about 11%.

If you are waiting until you are symptomatic, there’s a good chance you’ve cruised right past those early stages.

You can find additional information about risk factors, screening options, recommendations and general information here. Please take the time to read, and to share. You could save a life.

This week marks the birthday of an incredible woman who lost her battle in December 2010. She lived big, loved well and impacted everyone in her path. I promote education and awareness about colorectal cancer for both Chris and for my mother, both of whom are missed.

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