Colorectal Cancer Cheat Sheet

In the United States, more than 70,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer annually.  Risk factors and warning signs may include:

Risk Factors:

  • I am 50 or older
  • I have not been screened for colorectal cancer
  • I have a family history of colorectal cancer
  • I have a personal history of polyps, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and/or have had colon cancer in the past
  • I am overweight
  • I do not exercise regularly
  • I am diabetic
  • My diet is high in red and processed meat and/or low in plant sources
  • I smoke
  • I consume alchol heavily

Warning Symptoms:

Early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, making screening and early detection even more critical.  As polyps in the colon or rectum become malignant, the following signs may appear:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in the stool or in the toilet after a bowel movement
  • A change in stool shape
  • Cramping pain in the lower abdomen
  • Discomfort or falsely feeling the need for a bowel movement
  • New onset of constipation
  • Abnormal weight loss

These symptoms can often be similar to other diseases and conditions. However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away. You should discuss which of the following screening tools may be appropriate for you: Colonoscopy, Double Contrast Barium Enema, Fecal Occult Blood Test.

Contact The National Women’s Health Information Center for information on health insurance coverage or free clinics. Visit or call 1-800-994-9662.

Remember, early detection equals survival!

This information was provided by the American Cancer Society.

This information was reviewed by the Cancer Schmancer Medical Advisory Board.

Last updated: August 2010