Doctors push the importance of early colorectal cancer screening after death of U.S. Rep. McEachin

Congressman McEachin had battled colorectal cancer for nearly a decade.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:22 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -As many mourn Congressman Donald McEachin’s passing, doctors are urging people to get screened for colorectal cancer.

The risk of getting it increases as you get older, and some lifestyle factors like diet and weight might put you at a higher risk. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

According to the CDC, black men are 24 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer than white men and 47 percent more likely to die. Black women are 19 percent more likely to get the disease than white women and 34 percent more likely to die from the disease. The average age for diagnoses is also getting younger.

”Young onset is really on the rise, and actually, by the year 2030, incidence rates for people who are under the age of 50 is expected to double. Researchers right now don’t have a real cause for why that number is skyrocketing the way that it is,” Director of Partnerships for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance Angele Russell said.

The agency says that everyone should get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45 and even earlier if they have certain risk factors.

”If you have other risk factors such as a first-degree relative with colorectal cancer or if you’re experiencing active symptoms such as rectal bleeding, you need to get into a doctor and get screened,” Russell stated.

Obesity, alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise can also increase your risk of developing the disease. There are several tests available to get screened. Most doctors and advocates say a colonoscopy is the best preventative test because doctors can remove polyps if they find any.

”Colon cancer really is the only preventable cancer out there if you get in and get the pre-cancerous polyps out, you really interrupt the disease process, and that happens in no other cancer that we know of,” Russell said.

If you think you’re at increased risk for colorectal cancer, you should talk to your doctor about when you should start getting tested and how often.