Find Provider Providers Find Locations Locations Care Services Services Patients Patients
General News

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

During the month of March, the nation raises awareness about one of the most common cancers in the United States among men and women combined – colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer.

Each year, approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer. Fortunately, with early detection, colon cancer has a 90% survival rate.

Colon cancer screenings are of critical importance, with the recommended age to begin screening recently lowered to 45 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer screening saves lives by finding precancerous polyps – abnormal growths in the colon or rectum – that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also finds colon cancer in its earliest stages when treatment is most effective.

Colonoscopy remains the gold standard in colon cancer screening. It is a simple and safe procedure in which a long tube with a light and camera is used to view the entire colon. Some additional screening methods include stool DNA, fecal immunochemical test (FIT), CT colonography or “virtual colonoscopy”, and flexible sigmoidoscopy. You should speak with your healthcare provider to determine which screening is right for you.

Colon cancer often develops without symptoms, but when they do occur, they may include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Changing bowel habits, such as intermittent or constant diarrhea and/or constipation, or a change in consistency of your stools
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort that may present as cramps, gas, bloating, or feelings of fullness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

In addition to these symptoms, please be aware of the following risk factors:

  • A family history of colon cancer
  • A personal history of cancer, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or Chron’s disease
  • Genetic links to Lynch syndrome, FAP, or other genetic syndromes
  • African Americans are also at an increased risk of colon cancer. Individuals with any of these risk factors may need to begin screening before age 45.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to speak with your family and loved ones about screening, and to seek advice from your healthcare provider about a screening of your own.

Mount Nittany Health is fortunate to have an outstanding team of providers and staff specializing in gastroenterology, including Dustin Case, DO; Qasim Salimi, MD; Rachelle Hoover, CRNP; Kayla Simpson, PA-C; and Todd Stasik, PA-C. To learn more about Mount Nittany Health Gastroenterology, visit

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 814.278.4631 or request an appointment online at