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February 20, 2024

Colorectal Cancer Awareness: Signs, Symptoms, and When to Consult Your Primary Care Physician with Jeffrey Hutchings, MD

by Jeffrey Hutchings, MD, MBA

Colorectal cancer is a prevalent and potentially life-threatening condition that affects the colon or rectum. The number of colorectal cancer cases continues to grow, especially in young adults. Being aware of the signs and symptoms is crucial for early detection and effective treatment.

Jeffrey Hutchings, MD, Family Physician with Avance Care Waxhaw, is sharing the key aspects of colorectal cancer awareness, focusing on recognizing signs and symptoms and understanding when it’s time to consult your primary care physician for further evaluation. Empowering yourself with knowledge can make a significant difference in the prevention and management of colorectal cancer.

Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum, often starting as benign growths called polyps. Over time, these polyps can become cancerous, making early detection essential for successful treatment. Awareness of the risk factors, such as age, family history, and certain genetic conditions, is the first step in understanding the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer is crucial for early intervention. Symptoms may include persistent changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. While these symptoms can be caused by various conditions, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if they persist, as early detection significantly improves treatment outcomes.

Age and Screening Recommendations

Colorectal cancer risk increases with age, and regular screenings become more important as individuals reach certain milestones. Guidelines often recommend screenings starting at age 45 or earlier for those with specific risk factors. Screening methods may include colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests, and other diagnostic tools. Discussing screening recommendations with your primary care physician ensures personalized and timely interventions.

Role of Primary Care Physicians in Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Primary care physicians play a pivotal role in colorectal cancer awareness by educating patients about the importance of screenings and recognizing potential symptoms. They guide individuals through the screening process, assess risk factors, and ensure appropriate interventions. Establishing an open dialogue with your primary care physician is essential for maintaining colorectal health.

Lifestyle Factors and Prevention of Colorectal Cancer

While some risk factors for colorectal cancer are beyond our control, lifestyle choices can significantly impact prevention. Primary care physicians offer guidance on adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet rich in fiber, regular exercise, and avoidance of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. These measures contribute not only to colorectal cancer prevention but also to overall well-being.

When to Consult Your Primary Care Physician

If you experience any signs or symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, it’s crucial to consult your primary care physician promptly. Additionally, individuals approaching the recommended age for colorectal cancer screenings should proactively discuss screening options with their healthcare provider. Timely consultations enable early detection, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment planning.

Importance of Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups with your primary care physician are integral to colorectal cancer awareness. These routine visits allow for ongoing monitoring of health, discussion of any emerging concerns, and collaboration on preventive measures. By maintaining a proactive and engaged relationship with your primary care physician, you enhance your ability to address colorectal health comprehensively.

Colorectal cancer awareness is a vital component of proactive healthcare. By understanding the signs and symptoms, adhering to recommended screening guidelines, and maintaining open communication with your primary care physician, you can take significant steps toward early detection and prevention.

Colorectal health is a shared responsibility between individuals and their healthcare providers, and together, we can work towards reducing the impact of colorectal cancer on lives. Stay informed, prioritize screenings, and consult your primary care physician when needed to ensure optimal colorectal health.


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