SCF Health Education encourages colorectal cancer awareness with a giant blow-up colon in the ANPCC lobby.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. It starts in your inner colon or rectum by growing polyps, which are not always cancerous, but can be. If a polyp is larger than 1 centimeter in diameter or there are more than two growths, there is more of a chance of cancer being involved.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and in observance of this national event, Southcentral Foundation is working hard to communicate the importance of colorectal cancer screenings by hosting booths in their clinic lobbies and even participating in a Fur Rendezvous parade dressed in brightly colored fruits and carrying signs to encourage healthy habits.

Though you may not have cancer the first time you are screened, it is especially important to get screened regularly because polyps can grow and develop over time. According to Alaska Colorectal Surgery, they begin in the colon wall and, if cancerous can grow into blood vessels and affect other parts of the body.

Some signs you may want to be screened include changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool, or abdominal discomfort. Though getting screened for colorectal cancer is strongly recommended for people who are 40 and older, polyps can develop at any time in a person’s life.

Colorectal cancer is common but it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. People at high risk for this form of cancer often have a gene that causes predisposition for it. However, those who smoke, drink, or do not have healthy habits of diet and exercise in place put themselves at a higher risk of developing the disease.

If you are screened and cancerous polyps are found in your colon, they can be treated by surgically removing them or sometimes by an oral antibiotic. The removal of cancer does not protect from having cancer again, unfortunately. In fact, those who have already had colorectal cancer are at a higher risk of recurrence. It is important to get screened at regular intervals. The recommended screenings and intervals according to the American Cancer Society are: a colonoscopy every ten years, a CT colonoscopy every five years, or a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT test, every year. Speak with your healthcare provider about the best option for you.

Don’t miss the Colon Carnival; every Friday in the Anchorage Primary Care Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for fun activities and colon education.

Call your provider team to set an appointment for your colon screening.

by Addison Arave, SCF Public Relations