Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
1 Mar 2024
9 mins
Table Of Content
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    The beginning of March is marked as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


    Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer among men all over the world, and colon cancer cases are among the top five most often reported cancer cases in India. Colorectal cancer awareness month 2024 limelights the disease and inspires more individuals to get screened at age 45 and promotes healthy living habits that can reduce a person's risk of developing cancer in the colon, rectum, or anus, collectively called colorectal cancer.


    What Is Colorectal Cancer?


    Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell division. Colorectal cancer arises when this type of tumor occurs in the colon or rectum (CRC). The large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum (colorectum) as well as the anus, is the last section of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. The large intestine is also called a large bowel; hence CRC is also known as bowel cancer.


    Prevalence Of Colorectal Cancer


    Colorectal cancer is most prevalent in Asia, accounting for more than half of all cases and fatalities. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the global burden of colorectal cancer will rise by 56% between 2020 and 2040, reaching more than 3 million new cases annually. The predicted rise in disease-related deaths is 69%, to reach approximately 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2040.


    Objectives Of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 2024


    • Increasing colorectal cancer screening, detection, and prevention awareness.
    • Raising awareness of colorectal cancer risk factors.
    • To support colorectal cancer survivors and their families

    Key Facts


    • Colorectal cancer can involve either the colon or the rectum. It arises from the cells that line the inside of these organs. Most benign tumors, known as polyps, grow slowly before becoming malignant. It can be removed before it gets malignant if diagnosed early.
    • Colorectal cancer is the third-most common, accounting for 10.7% of all new cases.
    • Colorectal cancer is more prevalent in men than women.
    • Colorectal cancer affects about 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women in their lifetime.
    • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
    • Screening is the most effective method of preventing or detecting this condition early when it is most curable. CRC has a 90% survival rate when detected early.


    Why Is Screening Important?


    Screening can detect early signs of colon and rectal cancer, allowing doctors to take preventive measures. Colorectal cancer can be prevented with regular screening beginning at 45. Colorectal cancer screenings should be done regularly if you are 45 to 75 years old. If you're under 45 and suspect you're at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, or if you're over 75, consult with your physician about screening.


    Screening procedures include the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) and colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer can be prevented by colonoscopy screening since precancerous polyps identified during the process can be removed simultaneously. However, it is predicted that early diagnosis of this condition might prevent well over half of the deaths that occur each year.


    Early Signs Of Colorectal Cancer


    In the early stages of colon cancer, many people experience no symptoms. That is why colorectal cancer is called a silent killer.


    • A persistent change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
    • Change in the consistency of the stool
    • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
    • Continuous stomach discomforts, such as cramps, gas, or pain
    • A sense that intestines are not emptied
    • Weakness or tiredness
    • Sudden weight loss.
    • Decreased appetite

     Risk Factors Of Colorectal Cancer


    Colorectal cancer has several risk factors. Some of them can be changed, while others cannot.


    Modifiable Risk Factor


    1. Changes in diet
    2. Including more physical activity
    3. Cigarette and alcohol usage
    4. Obesity


    Non-Modifiable Risk Factor


    1. Family history: Having a  family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
    2. Personal history: People who have previously had colorectal cancer or polyps are more likely to develop the disease again.
    3. Genetic diseases: A genetic syndrome that causes colorectal cancer, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
    4. Age: Colorectal cancer risk increases with age. The majority of instances are found in adults over the age of 50.

    Nutritional Evidence That Increases And Decreases The Risk Of Colorectal Cancer


    Increase The Risk Of Colorectal CancerDecrease The Risk Of Colorectal Cancer
    • Consuming red meat
    • Consuming processed meat
    • Consuming alcoholic drinks
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Low consumption of non-starchy vegetables
    • Low consumption of fruit
    • Consumption of foods that contain haem
    • Being physically active
    • Consuming whole grains
    • Consuming foods containing dietary fiber
    • Consuming dairy products
    • Calcium and vitamin D supplements
    • Foods containing vitamin C like spinach
    • Consuming fish

    In addition to diet, nutrition, and physical activity, smoking 40 cigarettes daily doubles the risk of colorectal cancer. Other diseases, like inflammatory bowel diseases, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.


    Cancer Doesn’t Have to Define You


    Colorectal cancer awareness is represented by the dark blue ribbon. The dark blue reflects the eternal memory of those who have lost their lives to the disease, and it also represents the bright hope for a future free of colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is curable and does not always result in death. In March, we gather to bring hope and spread awareness on early detection, the importance of screening, and the prevention of colorectal cancer.



    What are the differences between colorectal cancer, colon cancer, and rectal cancer? 

    Colorectal cancer is when cancer forms in the colon or rectum. These two types of cancer are often grouped together because they have similar traits. The colon and rectum together make up the large intestine, which is shaped like a question mark and is about four feet long. Colon cancer typically develops in most parts of the large intestine except for the very end near the rectum. On the other hand, rectal cancer specifically occurs in the last few inches of the large intestine that connects to the anus. It's worth noting that colon cancer is more prevalent than rectal cancer.


    Can women get colorectal cancer?

    While colorectal cancer is more commonly diagnosed in men, women can also develop this type of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the incidence rate for men is around 43 per 100,000, whereas for women, it is approximately 33 per 100,000. It is important to note that regardless of gender, the risk of colorectal cancer tends to rise with age. Typically, the median age for a colorectal cancer diagnosis is 67 years old.


    Can colorectal cancer be prevented?

    Regular screenings and lifestyle changes can help prevent colorectal cancer. Screening with colonoscopies is recommended starting at age 45 or earlier if there is a family history. Lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and being physically active, can also lower the risk. These screenings play a crucial role in early detection, enabling doctors to identify cancer in its initial stages and potentially remove precancerous polyps through biopsy during the procedure.

    "It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    Written by
    Dr. VijayalakshmiMedical Content Writer
    AboutDr. Vijayalakshmi is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She completed her Bachelor of Dentistry (BDS) from Sri Ramakrishna Dental College, Coimbatore, in 2022, where she expertise in dental and clinical research. During her internship, she has also worked on various research projects and presented scientific papers in national UG seminars. Post her UG, she has upskilled in pharmacovigilance regulations and clinical trial methodology through certification courses. She is proficient in researching, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content and blogs.
    Tags :Colorectal cancerColorectal cancer awareness monthColon and rectum cancerThird most common cancer Risk factors of colorectal cancer