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Senior Citizen's Guide

Take Control of Your Health During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

American Cancer SocietyAttention men and women age 50 and older. The American Cancer Society wants you to know that screening for colon cancer can save your life. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women today. This year more than $145,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and an estimated 56,290 deaths are expected to occur with more than 3,400 of them in Indiana. African Americans have the highest death rate from colon cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the United States.

If you are age 50 or older you can protect yourself by getting screened. Don't wait for symptoms. In its early stages, colorectal cancer usually causes no symptoms. Rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, and cramping pain in the lower abdomen may signal advanced disease. The survival rate for colon cancer is 90 percent when caught early, yet only 9 percent when the disease spreads to other areas.

The primary risk factor for colorectal cancer is age, with more than 90 percent of cases diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50. A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps or of inflammatory bowel disease increases colorectal cancer risk. Other risk factors include smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, physical inactivity, a diet high in fat and/or red meat, as well as inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables. A recent study suggested that men and women who are overweight are more likely to die from colorectal cancer. Other studies have also suggested that estrogen replacement therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, may reduce colorectal cancer risk.

Beginning at age 50, men and women who are at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have one of the following:



During the month of March, call your local American Cancer Society for a free risk assessment for colorectal cancer and to see if you qualify for a free screening at one of the participating medical facilities.

Get screened and catch the disease early, when it is most treatable, or prevent it from occurring by removing precancerous polyps. Talk to your physician about colon cancer screening.

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