March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. If you are age 50 or older and have not had a colorectal screening, please schedule one today. If everyone age 50 and older were screened for colon cancer regularly, as many at 60% of colon cancer deaths could be avoided.

The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age with more than 90% of cases occurring in people age 50 and older. Colorectal cancer screenings save lives. These screenings can find precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they become cancerous. They can also find colorectal cancer early, and treatment often leads to a cure.

Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer with no indication of a problem, which is why colorectal cancer screenings are so important. Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include blood in the stool, stomach pains, aches, or cramps that don't subside, and unexplainable weight loss.

You should begin colorectal cancer screenings soon after your 50th birthday and continue annually until your 75th birthday. Your doctor will let you know if you should continue your annual screening after your 75th birthday.

You may be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer if you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, or have a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. Genetic syndromes such as familiar adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch Syndrome) will also put you at a higher risk to develop colorectal cancer. If you think you may be a high risk patient, talk to your doctor about when you should begin your screening and how often you should be tested.

If you're 50 or older and haven't been in for a screening, or if a family member has struggled with colon cancer, we expect to see you! Our EIRMC staff knows that colon cancer screenings are not necessarily what you would choose to do on your day off, but we'll make sure it's an easy and reassuring process.