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Are you at risk for colorectal cancer?

Not including skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer among Americans. If you check any of these statements, you’re at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

  • I’m older than 50. Or, older than 45 if African American.
  • An immediate family member had colorectal cancer.
  • I have had polyps in my colon or rectum.
  • I eat a lot of red meat.
  • I have more than one alcoholic drink a day.
  • I smoke.
  • I’m overweight.
  • I have Type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

People who have any of the following symptoms should check with their doctors, especially if they are over 50 years old or have a personal or family history of the disease:

  • A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or gnawing stomach pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so

The symptoms of colorectal cancer may resemble other conditions, such as infections, hemorrhoids, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is also possible to have colon cancer and not have any symptoms. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.