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Five Myths About Colorectal Cancer


Even though colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., not enough people talk about it. 

Not everyone feels comfortable talking about their bowels, and because of this stigma, it’s easier for people to have misconceptions about colorectal cancer. Being aware of the facts can have potentially life-saving benefits. That is why we’re debunking five myths about colorectal cancer and encouraging everyone to stay informed.

Myth #1: CRC only affects older people

While it is true that the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, it can affect people of any age.

Recently, cases of colorectal cancer in young people have risen by 2.2% each year. At the same time, the rate for people aged 65 or older has dropped. While science has not settled on why more people are receiving a young-onset colorectal cancer diagnosis, the Alliance is currently funding research to identify possible causes.

The chances of surviving colorectal cancer increase when it’s detected early. Therefore, young individuals should acquaint themselves with the symptoms of CRC as well as their family’s medical history

While the recommended age to begin screening is 45 years old, you may need to get a colonoscopy sooner depending on your individual risk factors.

Myth #2: CRC only affects men

While colorectal cancer does affect more men than women, it is still very common in women and should not be overlooked by either gender. The probability of developing CRC over one’s lifetime is approximately 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women. 

Recent data did show that men ages 20-49 are nearly twice as likely to die from colorectal cancer than women of the same ages. However, overall lifetime trends remain similar enough that both men and women should be learning about the symptoms and risks of colorectal cancer. 

Myth #3: CRC is not preventable 

Not only is CRC preventable, but it’s one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Screening tests can detect precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they turn into cancer. 

If all it took to prevent yourself from getting cancer was taking a simple screening quiz, completing a basic procedure, and waiting for the results, would you do it? People need to know that it really is that simple. Get screened today because CRC is highly preventable. 

Myth #4: CRC always causes symptoms 

Colorectal cancer can be present whether or not symptoms arise. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of CRC, including:

  • Changing bowel habits
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weakness and/or fatigue 
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • No symptoms at all

Because colorectal cancer can cause various symptoms or none at all, it’s important to understand when to get screened. Factors like symptoms, family health history, and certain conditions like Lynch syndrome could mean you need to get testing completed before age 45.

Myth #5: Colorectal cancer is fatal

Sometimes people don’t want to get tested because they fear the potential results. It’s important to know, however, that colorectal cancer has high survivorship rates when detected early. 

Colorectal cancer is highly treatable, especially in the earlier stages, so on-time screening is key to overcoming this disease. Chemotherapy isn’t always required for CRC cancer patients in the earlier stages of the disease. Therefore, treatment may require little more than some changes to your lifestyle and a minor surgery to remove the cancer. 

Debunking myths means saving lives

Here at the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, we know that the more we can break down the stigma of talking about CRC, the more lives we can save as we work to overcome this disease. There’s no reason that colorectal cancer should be the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., and we’re on a mission to change that fact.

Join in our cause by sharing this information with your friends and family, taking our free online screening quiz, and helping to make colorectal cancer famous. Together, we can debunk myths, save lives, and envision a better future free from colorectal cancer.

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