Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Here's what age doctors recommend adults get tested
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Doctors are seeing an increase in young adults being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
"Catching it early with screening tests is very important because the reality is colorectal cancer is incredibly curable, especially if it's caught early," said Dr. William Hall with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it's a good time to check with your doctor about options to stay safe.
There are several factors that determine the age you should get screened for colorectal cancer, but for the average person, the American Cancer Society recommends 45 years old. That number was recently lowered from 50 years old.
Checking for colorectal cancer can be done with a colonoscopy. Dr. Hall, a radiation oncologist who specializes in rectal cancers, says the exam scares some people away. That's why less invasive options have become available.
"Some options can be tested at home with a stool sample that patients provide and mail in in a relatively discreet kit," said Hall.
Without screening, colorectal cancer can be a difficult disease to detect.
"The most common symptoms that patients can develop are often small traces of blood in the bowel movements, sometimes larger amounts of blood in the bowel movements and sometimes patients just don't notice," said Hall. "That can show up as a change in the color of bowel movements or change in frequency or consistency."
Doctors don't know why colorectal cancer is now being seen in patients at a younger age, but the earlier it's caught, the less likely it is to spread to the organs.