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Article originally published March 22, 2021. Updated February 13, 2024.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States – but the good news is that’s it’s also one of the most preventable. The best way to catch colorectal cancer in the early stages – when it’s most treatable – is through routine colonoscopies.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer:

  • Changes in bowel habits that last for more than a few days (constipation, diarrhea, narrow or thin stool)
  • Sensation of needing to pass a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
  • Bright red bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in the stool (may appear dark brown or black)
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort (pain or cramping)
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

While these symptoms can often be attributed to conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome, speak to your healthcare provider about any new or concerning symptoms. Being proactive is an important step in managing your health.

If you are age 45, it’s time to schedule your colonoscopy. You may need to get screened before age 45 if:

  • You have symptoms of colorectal cancer (see above)
  • You have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • You are African American
  • You have a genetic link to colorectal cancer
  • You have a personal history of cancer
  • You have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease

For more information about colorectal cancer and screening, talk to your healthcare provider or call 740-687-8863. To read more about the Cancer Services available at FMC, click here.

Source: American Cancer Society