Any age. Any gender. Any race. Colon Cancer does not discriminate.
As part of CREA’s monthly awareness initiative, we are committed to bringing awareness to colon (colorectal) cancer in the month of March and have provided a donation to support the Colon Cancer Coalition and their mission to “empower local communities to promote prevention and early detection of colon cancer, and to provide support to those affected.”
The third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death by cancer, colon cancer refers to cancer in the colon and/or rectum. When identified and treated early, it is easily treatable. However, colon cancer takes the lives of over 50,000 people ever year* – including the loved one of a CREA employee.
“My grandma was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005, when I was a sophomore in college,” said Carrie Daniel, VP, Asset Management. “And because it’s genetic, they also tested my mom and my aunt. It was found that my mom also had colon cancer and was diagnosed on Valentine’s Day 2005.”
Colon Cancer often develops few, if any, symptoms. As such, it is important to be proactive in noticing these slight changes and to talk openly with your doctor or health care provider about any concerns. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance offers the following symptoms to be aware of:
- Change in your bowel habits
- Persistent abdominal discomfort
- Presence of blood
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms above and are wondering if you should go to the doctor – the earlier the better! When in doubt, get checked out.
“She [my mom] had never been tested before, because she wasn’t the ‘insurance recommended’ age of 50 yet,” said Carrie. “Doctors said that if she would have waited for insurance to cover her test, she would have been dead.”
While colon cancer is often found in individuals over 50, there has been a rise in early onset cases. From 2007 to 2016, rates of people aged 55+ dropped 3.6%, while rates of people under 55 increased 2% each year (American Cancer Society’s 2017 Cancer Facts & Figures). As such, being conscious of key indicators to your risk in addition to age, such as family history, lifestyle and current symptoms, are crucial to early detection, treatment and success of outcome.
“They caught my mom’s early enough, that she ‘just had to have surgery’ – no chemo or anything. But my grandma lost her battle in October 2006.”
While it is the most common, there are other screening options outside of a colonoscopy, such as blood and fecal tests. It is to no surprise that people aren’t jumping to get a colonoscopy screening for colon cancer. However, screening is really the most effective way to stay current on the health of your colon and/or rectum.
For Carrie Daniel, the loss of her grandma to colon cancer created a big impact in her world. While it was a difficult time as she grieved, it also brought her and her family advanced knowledge that ultimately saved her mom.
“I get to start having colonoscopies next year, starting at the age of 35!”
Learn more about colon cancer and advocacy opportunities through the Colon Cancer Coalition.
*Source: Colorectal Cancer Alliance