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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This disease starts in the colon or the rectum and can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 107,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer while another 46,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer. It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, excluding skin cancer.

Dr. Seth Felder, a colorectal surgeon in the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, broke down the three key takeaways to understanding the disease:

1. Screening

The ACS recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. A screening colonoscopy is considered the gold standard when testing for the disease.

2. Family & Personal History

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier depending on the age of your family member at the time of their diagnosis.

3. Symptoms

Persistent rectal bleeding, change in bowel function, unexplained abdominal pain or weight loss are the biggest warning signs to be on the lookout for.