Protect Yourself: 4 Signs It’s Time For Colorectal Cancer Screening

If you don't give your medical screenings much consideration, it's time to start. Medical screening tools such as mammograms, prostate exams, and colorectal screenings are particularly important to your health. Unfortunately, colorectal screenings are often put off or overlooked altogether. If you're not sure that you need a colorectal screening, read the information provided below. If any of the circumstances described below relate to you, it's time to schedule a colorectal cancer screening

You've Reached Your 45th Birthday

If you haven't reached your senior years yet, you might think that you don't need to start your colorectal screenings. However, that's not the case. You should actually have your first colorectal screening around the time you celebrate your 45th birthday. You should continue having regular colorectal screenings until you celebrate your 75th birthday. After that, your doctor will tell you when you need to have the screening. 

You've had a Change in Bowel Habits

If you're like most people, you know what your typical bowel habits are like. For instance, you know what foods are going to cause you to experience sudden bouts of diarrhea or constipation. You might even know what the normal color should be for your bowel movements. If you've noticed an unusual change in your bowel habits, it's time to talk to your doctor about a colorectal screening. Sudden changes such as painful bowel movements, recurring diarrhea or constipation, or blood in your stool, are signs that shouldn't be ignored. 

Your Family has a Genetic Risk for Cancer

If your family has a history of cancer, especially colon cancer, it's time to schedule your annual colorectal screening. You may not know this, but you have a one in four chance of developing colon cancer if a close family member has also had it. Because of the increased risk, you shouldn't postpone your colorectal exams. If you're not sure about your family history, talk to your doctor about an additional screening to determine your genetic risk factor for colon cancer. 

You Have History of Cigarette or Alcohol Use

If you drink or smoke, you need to talk to your doctor about colorectal screenings. You might not think that smoking or drinking increases your risk for colon cancer, but it does. This is especially true if you're a heavy drinker or smoker. An annual colorectal exam will help to ensure that any early signs of colon cancer are caught early.