OP-ED: A Conversation That May Save Your Life
By: Mrs. Brenda Fleischmann
A Conversation That May Save Your Life
Often times in conversations “bathroom talk” can be considered taboo, but when it comes to colorectal cancer, it may save your life.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and though colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., it’s not discussed openly. More than 140,000 men and women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018 and 50,630 will die of the disease. In Tennessee alone 3,110 are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.
Despite common misconceptions, colorectal cancer doesn’t affect only men or just the elderly. In fact, colorectal cancer rates for men and women are similar, and although your risk increases with age, rates in young people are on the rise. You’re also at greater risk if you smoke, are overweight, are not physically active, drink alcohol in excess, eat a lot of red and processed meats, or have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer.
A colonoscopy can find polyps (growths) that can be removed before they become cancerous or it can detect cancer early, when successful treatment is more likely. You should get a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50, unless your results or risk factors indicate you need to be screened earlier or more often.
Reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by exercising, limiting your alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco, eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat, and maintaining a healthy weight. To learn more, visit www.preventcancer.org.
Brenda Fleischmann is the spouse of Representative Chuck Fleischman and is a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program. Statistics are provided by the American Cancer Society.