March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Besides skin cancers, tumors in the colon and rectum account for approximately one-third of cancer diagnoses in the U.S. The American Cancer Society approximates 145,000 new cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) in 2021. Doctors are unclear of specific causes of colorectal cancers, but research does show a connection between asbestos exposure and the development of tumors in the colon.
Organizations that advocate for cancer patients have made March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Some raise funds for research or volunteer time at fundraising events, and others provide outlets of medical information and support for patients and their loved ones. The population that colorectal cancer affects is large. Researchers estimate there will be approximately 52,000 related deaths in 2021. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness on colorectal cancer, including its potential causes, treatment, emerging therapies, research, and other helpful topics. The more people know, the better they can react, notice symptoms, and potentially get themselves or someone else the medical attention or resources they need. Volunteering time or money can also help support researchers and scientists making strides towards the development of new treatments and therapies.
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What is Colorectal Cancer?
Cancer that starts in the large intestine, also known as the colon and the last section of the digestive tract. Other names for it include bowel, colon, and rectal cancer. While the disease affects people of all ages, it mostly develops in older adults. Early signs of the illness can look like a cluster of cells that bunch up together and form on the inside of the colon. This group of cells is called polyps, and they’re considered benign, or noncancerous.
Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes most cases of colorectal cancers but know that tumors can develop from changes or mutations in DNA. Cells begin to grow and divide irregularly when DNA is compromised. Damaged cells will grow excessively until they build up and accumulate into polyps that can become malignant (cancerous).
The Asbestos and Colorectal Cancer Connection
Cell DNA in the colon that’s changed or mutated can cause malignant tumors to form and grow. If asbestos is ingested, its tiny fibers could eventually make their way to the colon where they may latch to nearby cells and cause damage to their DNA. After a while, the constant scratching and scarring will cause damaged cells to grow out of control. Moreover, research has shown colorectal cancer in patients with prolonged exposure to asbestos.
How Asbestos Exposure Occurs
Asbestos is a mineral mined from the ground that was once used as an insulator of materials in several industries. Eventually, medical professionals discovered the latent harmful effects that exposure to asbestos could cause. Sometimes causing illnesses like colorectal cancer or mesothelioma as long as 10 or 15 years after exposure. Most uses of the mineral were banned in the 1970s and 80s after workers in high-risk industries kept getting exposed and sick from working nearby products and structures contaminated with it.
If You Want to Support Colorectal Cancer Awareness
Interested advocates have multiple options for offering their support to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Even if you can’t physically help, just sharing important resources like this page with others can make a difference.
Some other involved ways to show support include:
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is one of the main organizations dedicated to supporting colorectal cancer awareness and research.
Toll-free Helpline: (877) 422 2030
Online Communities and Support Groups
Other Helpful Organizations and Support Groups
There are several cancer patient advocate non-profits that aim to spread information and resources to patients and their loved ones. Other notable organizations that offer support are:
- Colon Cancer Coalition
Phone: 952 378 1237
- Cancer Support Community
Phone: 888 793 9355
- Cancer Care
Email: [email protected] | Phone: 800‑813‑HOPE (4673)
Colorectal Cancer Online Support Group
These organizations are nonprofits that have a wealth of information and resources available for patients with most types of cancer.
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The probability of developing colon or rectal cancer increases if other members of your immediate family have had it. Adding to that, those with a history of polyps, an inflamed bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, or Lynch syndrome are also at high risk. Exposure to radiation and asbestos has also caused colorectal cancer.
One major goal of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is to convey the importance of high-risk individuals getting early screenings and tests for signs of tumors or polyps. Even though older people and seniors are mostly affected, it can help to get ahead of the illness by starting the screening process before age 45. If any of the above situations apply to you, reach out to your physician about early screening for colorectal cancer. If you aren’t a high risk for this type of cancer, support Colorectal Awareness Month by sharing this blog with others and spreading helpful information.