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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The Colon Cancer Alliance and other advocacy groups have dedicated the month of March to increasing their educational efforts and outreach in the hope of saving lives. Fortunately, colorectal cancer can be prevented in many cases, largely by early detection.

In addition to screening, the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center advises that a healthy diet is another important part of prevention. Of course, a healthy diet promotes a multitude of other positive benefits including feeling more energetic and losing weight. The staff at Johns Hopkins recommend the following:

  • Eat plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat fresh fish 1-3 times per week.

  • Limit consumption of red meat.

  • Avoid excess salt and saturated fats.

  • Maintain a healthy weight and keep physically active.

  • Limit alcohol consumption.

  • Avoid tobacco in any form.

Preventive screening is recommended starting at age 50 for people who are not at increased risk of colorectal cancer, and there are several acceptable screening options available. Those at higher risk, such as those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, might benefit from starting screening at a younger age. If you have a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, you should definitely talk with your primary care provider about your risk.

Missouri’s Community Health Centers provide a full range of medical, dental and behavioral health services and are open to all residents, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Check out the Missouri Primary Care Association website to find a Community Health Center near you.

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