Written By ALYSSA JUNG
If there was ever a cancer that desperately needed an awareness month, it’s colon cancer. That month, thankfully, is March. About 140,000 people are diagnosed and 50,000 die from colorectal cancer each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among cancers that affect both men and women. Still, as many as one half of Americans who should be getting colon cancer screenings, aren’t.
While colonoscopy—the gold standard for screening—is very effective at detecting cancer, regular exams are recommended only starting at age 50, and then every 10 years. Although 90 percent of cases appear in people age 50 and older, you should be concerned about worrisome symptoms at any age, says Patricia Raymond, MD, a fellow at the American College of Gastroenterology. “People do get it in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” she says. And while rectal bleeding is the most obvious red-flag symptom, Raymond says these three others could indicate that something is wrong.