March is #ColorectalCancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US and the second leading cause of death from cancer.

Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people ages 50 and older.

According to the American Cancer Society, the estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2018 are:

  • 97,220 new cases of colon cancer
  • 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men. The number of deaths from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that colorectal polyps are now being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers or are being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Colorectal cancer might not cause symptoms right away, but if it does, it may cause one or more of these symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which may make the stool look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

If you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so important to get screened. People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance identified several risk factors for colorectal cancer that you can review here.  

When should you get screened?

Screenings are the best way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer; early detection saves lives!  The Colorectal Cancer Alliance created this reference to help you know when to get colorectal cancer screenings.  

IF YOU … THEN YOU SHOULD…
Are experiencing symptoms Talk to your doctor immediately
Have a family history of colon cancer or polyps                     Get screened at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family                       (mother, father, sister, brother)
Are African American Get screened at age 45
Have a genetic link to colon cancer such
as Lynch Syndrome, FAP, etc.
Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 50
Have a personal history of cancer Talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 50
Have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease Talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 50
Are 50 years old and don’t fit into any of the above categories Get screened!

Local Resources

The New York State Cancer Services Program provides colorectal cancer screenings to men and women at no cost, who meet the eligibility requirements. For more details about eligibility and to schedule your screening, contact the Cortland and Tompkins County program at 607-758-5523!  Early detection saves lives!

Emotional Support

If you are an individual that has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and would benefit from additional support, consider attending our Colorectal Support Group.

There are many online resources to find more information about cervical cancer, screening, prevention, treatment, and support.  We recommend:

March 2 was Dress in Blue Day!6

Join our mission to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. By wearing blue and raising funds to support the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, you and your peers become part of a nation of passionate allies, taking on this senseless killer. Learn More Here  #tomorrowcantwait

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February is #CancerPrevention Month

Every year the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) leads a campaign to spotlight how individuals can reduce their cancer risk with lifestyle changes. The campaign, CANCER PREVENTION: TOGETHER WE CAN, is dedicated to presenting evidence-based user-friendly and interactive tools that educate and empower.

The mission of the American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

The Cancer Resource Center is an official partner with AICR to promote cancer prevention awareness.  Check us out on the partner page!  We are sharing resources and information from AICR about how lifestyle changes can improve your overall health and lower your risk for certain cancers.

According to their website, AICR estimates that close to one-third of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented if Americans moved more, weighed less and ate more healthfully. That’s about 340,000 cancers every year that never have to happen. Add in not smoking and avoiding sun damage, and that figure climbs even higher – nearly half of US cancers could be prevented by changing our everyday habits.

You don’t have to go on drastic diets or do strenuous gym workouts. Making small changes in your everyday life can make a difference – small steps add up to big improvements in your health.

What can you do to make these changes?  The AICR provides these recommendations for cancer prevention.

These ten recommendations for cancer prevention are drawn from the WCRF/AICR Second Expert Report.
Each recommendation links to more details.

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Limit sedentary habits.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  8. Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.
  9. * It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods.
  10. * After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Aside from maintaining a healthy weight a& being physically active, some other important ways to reduce your risk are:

  • Don’t smoke!
  • Avoid sun exposure/use sunscreen!
  • Get vaccinated! (HPV)

In addition, remember to schedule cancer screenings with your medical providers.  Screening tests can prevent cervical and colorectal cancers by finding abnormal cells before they become
cancer so that they can be removed. Screening tests for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers also find these cancers early, when treatment is most successful.  The American Cancer Society
has these guidelines for screenings and early detection.

Locally, eligible individuals can receive free screenings
(breast, cervical, and colon) offered through the
Cancer Services Program of Cortland and Tompkins Counties.
For more information, call the Cortland County Health 
Department at 607-758-5523.

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January is #CervicalCancer Awareness Month

Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer, most often in women over the age of 30. This cancer forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity.  About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The good news?

  •         The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
  •         Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, it is recommended that:

  •         Women start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
  •         Parents make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

There are many resources to find more information about cervical cancer, screening, prevention, and treatment.  We recommend:

Local Resources

Cervical cancer screenings

Free cervical screenings (pap/pelvic exams) are available for many women through the Cancer Services Program of Cortland and Tompkins Counties.
For more information, call the Cortland County Health Department at 607-758-5523.

Emotional Support

If you are a woman that has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and would benefit from additional support, consider attending our Women’s Support Group.
Women with all types of cancers are welcome and have found emotional support, established new friendships, and felt compassion by talking and sharing with others going through similar experiences.

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