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When detected early, colorectal cancer is highly curable

No cancer can be completely prevented. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the disease or catch it early. Be aware of risk factors, watch for signs and symptoms of the disease, and talk with your doctor about screening.


  • Advancing age

  • Family or personal history of colon cancer

  • Personal or family history of adenomas (precancerous) polyps

  • Personal history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn's or ulcerative colitis

The hidden warning signs of colorectal cancer

Early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a small noncancerous growth in the wall of the colon or rectum. As a polyp grows, it can bleed, obstruct the intestine or become cancerous. See your doctor if you have any of these warning signs:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bleeding from the rectum

  • Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having a bowel movement

  • Dark- or black-colored stools

  • A change in the shape of the stool

  • A feeling of discomfort or an urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need to have one

  • New onset of constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days

  • Unintentional weight loss

Current recommendations for the prevention of colorectal cancer 

  • Get screened according to recommendations. Talk with your doctor about what screening is appropriate for you.

  • Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle.

  • Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources; specifically:

    • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

    • Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

    • Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.

    • Limit your consumption of processed and red meats.

  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.