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American Cancer Society

Myth #1: Colorectal Cancer is a man’s disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. About 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. More than 50,000 die from colorectal cancer each year.

Myth #2: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.
Truth: Colorectal cancer can be prevented in many cases. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp, and if the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts.
Tests that can find polyps: double contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy or CT colonography. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.

Myth #3: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer.
Truth: African American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US racial or ethnic group. The reason for this is not yet understood.

Myth #4: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.
Truth: More than 90% of all colorectal cancers are found in people who are 50 years of age or older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting checked for this cancer when you are age 50. People who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer (like those who have colon or rectal cancer in their families) may need to begin testing when they are younger. Talk to you doctor about when you should begin testing and how often.

Myth #5: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early while it is still small and before it has spread, the 5-year survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Other ways to help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer include:

  1. Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life; stay lean without being underweight.
  2. Be physically active; limit the time you spend sitting, lying down, watching TV, etc.
  3. Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  4. Choose whole grains over refined grain products.
  5. Limit the amount of red meat and processed meat you eat.
  6. If you drink alcohol, limit the amount to 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.
  7. Don’t use tobacco in any form.

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