Colorectal cancer, otherwise known as colon cancer, is a slow-developing cancer that can affect both men and women over the age of 50.   Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in men and the third most common cancer in women in Connecticut. 

Colon cancer can occur in the colon, the large intestine or the rectum, the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.  This type of cancer begins as a polyp that develops on the colon that can become cancerous. 

Often times, people who have polyps or colon cancer do not have symptoms at first, so individuals may have it without knowing it. For those individuals who do have symptoms, they may include the following: blood in or on stool; stomach pain, aches or cramps that occur frequently without reason; a change in bowel habits; and losing weight unexpectedly. 

Risk factors of colon cancer may include: being over the age of 50; colorectal polyps; a family history of colon cancer; genetic mutations; a personal history of cancer; ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease; diet and cigarette smoking.

Colon cancer is preventable in both men and women.  Here are three things you can do to prevent you or your loved ones from getting colon cancer:

  1. Get tested:  Regular screening tests starting at age 50 reduces the number of deaths from colon cancer.
  2. Pay attention to your body:  Know your body and what is normal for you.  Pay attention to changes in bowel movement, stomach pain and any other discomfort.  If you feel or see changes, contact your physician.
  3. Know your history: People with a family history of colon cancer need to speak to their physician about testing before age 50.

For further information on colon cancer, please visit http://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal.  Any further questions or concerns may be directed to the Central Connecticut Health District, serving the towns of Berlin, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield by visiting www.ccthd.org or by “liking” our page on Facebook.