Stay protected against colorectal cancer

Delighted positive nurse talking to her patient

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Luckily, it can be treated if detected early. Your Medicaid Expansion benefits with BCBSND include colorectal cancer screenings. Screenings, along with healthy choices, can keep you safe.

Facts about colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer that begins in the colon or rectum. Most cases start with polyps—small bumps or growths.

Additional facts about colorectal cancer:

  1. Gender equal: Colorectal cancer is equally common in women and men.
  2. No age discrimination: Colorectal cancer is more common for those 45 and up. However, it can occur sooner. In fact, early cases are on the rise. Talk with your provider about when to begin screenings.
  3. Colonoscopies are not painful: Patients are sedated and made comfortable. Most patients don’t even remember it. Uneasy about your colonoscopy? Talk with your doctor. Remember, the preparation and procedure are simple compared to the treatment for cancer.

Reduce your risks

Researchers have linked many behaviors to colorectal cancer risks. Avoiding these risks could lower your chances of developing colorectal polyps.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat fruits and vegetables daily
  • Choose whole instead of refined grains
  • Limit amounts of red or processed meats and sugary drinks
  • Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women; two per day for men
  • Don’t use tobacco
  • Discuss screenings with your doctor

Get screened early

Over the last few decades, the death rate from colorectal cancer has dropped. This is due to early detection. Yet recent studies show that cases among 20- to 50-year-olds are on the rise.

Regular screening is recommended for people starting at age 45 and continuing until age 75. Several different screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. They include:

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • FIT DNA (Cologuard)
  • Colonoscopy

Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. They will know how often you should be screened based on:

  • Your age
  • Overall health
  • Prior screening history
  • Your risk factors

Put your worries to rest

If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your care team will help develop a treatment plan that may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Target therapies

When found and treated early, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 90 percent.