March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance is challenging you to avoid assumptions and get more information about colorectal cancer that my help you or a loved one manage this deadly disease.

Colorectal cancer – cancer that starts in the colon or rectum – is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. Approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed and more than 50,000 people die from colon cancer in the U.S. annually.

At the same time, colorectal cancer is also the most preventable and treatable type of cancer. The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the local stage is 90 percent, compared to 14 percent for colorectal cancer found at distant stages. Through research and education about prevention, screening, and treatment, it is possible to end colorectal cancer in our lifetime.

Here are a few lifestyle practices you can adopt now to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer:

  • Eat your veggies: Enjoy a diet rich in fiber from vegetables, fruits and other plant based foods while reducing your consumption of red meat.
  • Exercise: Research has found that adults who exercise 30-60 minutes per day decrease their risk of colon cancer by 30-40 percent.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes: Long-term smokers and people who enjoy more than three drinks per day are at an increased risk for colon cancer.

For more information, visit dontassume.org, and talk to your health care provider about screening, symptoms and prevention of colorectal cancer.

*Recommendations and article provided by the Colorectal Cancer Association, and does not constitute official medical advice from Primary Health Care. Speak to your primary care provider if you believe you are at risk for colon cancer or before making dietary changes.