Congressman and wife speak out on colorectal cancer awareness

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

By REP. Phil Roe, M.D. & Mrs. Clarinda Roe
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and though colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., it’s not discussed as openly as other cancers because it can be uncomfortable or awkward for some to discuss symptoms, even with their doctors. More than 140,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018 and 50,630 will die of this disease. In Tennessee, the American Cancer Society estimates that 3,110 patients will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year. They also predict 1,220 Tennesseans will die from colorectal cancer in 2018, making it the second deadliest cancer in the state of Tennessee.
You may think you are not at risk for colorectal cancer, but anyone can get this disease. Unfortunately, we’ve experienced this firsthand in our family. Despite common misconceptions, it doesn’t affect only men and it’s not just an “old person’s disease.” In fact, colorectal cancer rates for men and women are similar, with one in 22 men and one in 24 women diagnosed. Although your risk of colorectal cancer does increase as you get older, rates in young people are on the rise. You’re also at greater risk if you’re African-American, smoke, are overweight or obese, are not physically active, drink alcohol in excess, eat a lot of red and processed meats or have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease.
Don’t ignore the symptoms. Early detection of polyps can help your doctor remove these growths before they become cancerous, just as early detection of cancer increases the likelihood treatment will be successful. If you experience rectal bleeding or blood in your stool; a change in bowel movements; stools that are more narrow than usual; abdominal problems; or diarrhea, constipation or a feeling that your bowel movement isn’t complete, inform your physician immediately.
We encourage you to talk to your doctor about your screening options. If you are at average risk, you should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50. If you are at increased risk, you may need to begin screening earlier or be screened more often. Once you reach age 75, talk to your health care professional about whether you should continue screening.
You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by exercising, limiting your alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco, eating less red meat and avoiding processed meats, and maintaining a healthy weight.
(Clarinda Roe is the spouse of Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. and a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program. Congressman Roe represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.)

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox