Get screened for colorectal cancer
People with an average risk of colorectal cancer can consider screening beginning at age 50. But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colorectal cancer, should consider screening sooner. Several screening options exist — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you. Options may include:
- Annual fecal occult blood testing
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Colorectaloscopy every 10 years
- Virtual colorectaloscopy (CT colorectalography) every five years
More frequent or earlier screening may be recommended if you′re at increased risk of colorectal cancer. Discuss the benefits and risks of each screening option with your doctor. You may decide one or more tests are appropriate for you.
Make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk
You can take steps to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by making changes in your everyday life. Take steps to:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which may play a role in cancer prevention. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get an array of vitamins and nutrients.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
- Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit that may work for you.
- Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you′ve been inactive, start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes. Also, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain your weight by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Aim to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing the number of calories you eat.