March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, BJC Help for Your Health is encouraging employees to understand the risk factors for colorectal cancer. For the 11th year, employees who commit to colorectal cancer prevention have an opportunity to win one of five Fitbit Charge 3 fitness trackers.

To be eligible for the drawing, complete the quiz, e-sign the form below and submit by March 31, 2019. Only one entry per employee will be eligible. (See the official rules here.)

Winners will be announced in BJC TODAY and on BJCnet.

Take the quiz online below. 

Some colon cancers can be avoided by changing risk factors you have control over.


True — Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States (excluding skin cancers), with about 145,000 people diagnosed each year, and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S. The good news is that individuals can take steps to prevent or reduce the risk for colon cancer. Here’s how:

• Get screened — Having regular screening for colon cancer is the single best way to protect yourself. You can detect cancer earlier, when it’s most treatable, or prevent it from developing in the first place.

• Maintain a healthy weight — Being overweight can increase the risk for many cancers, including colorectal cancer.

• Avoid a diet high in red and processed meat — Limit red meat, such as steak, hamburger and pork, and processed meat, such as bacon, sausage and bologna, to fewer than three servings a week.

• Get regular physical activity — Do something active you enjoy for at least 30 minutes a day to lower your risk of colon cancer. Activity also helps keep your weight down.

• Limit alcohol intake — If you drink, keep it to one drink or less a day. Even moderate amounts increase the risk of colon cancer.

• Avoid or stop smoking — On top of raising the risk of heart disease, stroke and emphysema, smoking is a major cause of at least 14 different cancers, including colon cancer. If you smoke, quit.

• Ensure proper nutrients, including vitamin D and folate — There’s evidence that adequate calcium and vitamin D protect against colon cancer. Shoot for about 1,200 mg a day of calcium and 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D. A daily multivitamin with folate is good for nutrition and can also protect against colon cancer.

• Talk to your doctor about a low-dose aspirin regimen — One low-dose aspirin a day can lower the risk of a heart attack, and long-term use can lower the risk of colon cancer. But aspirin has risks, so check with your doctor first.

Like all healthful behaviors, the earlier in life you start them and stick with them, the better for your long-term health.

Though colon cancer is preventable, there are still important risk factors that people can’t control.


True — Though colon cancer is very preventable, there are a number of important risk factors that people can’t control. Knowing which ones apply to you can help you understand your risk and take steps to lower it. If you feel you’re at high risk, talk to a doctor or health professional. The following factors can increase colon cancer risk:

Age: The risk for colon cancer goes up as we age, especially after 60.

Being tall: Colon cancer risk is higher in women 5 feet, 8 inches or taller, and in men 5 feet, 11 inches and taller.

Inflammatory bowel disease: People with inflammatory bowel disease have five times the risk of developing colon cancer, so cancer screenings are especially important.

Family history: Up to 5-6 percent of colorectal cancers are caused by inherited colon cancer syndromes. It’s important to know your family medical history, because a strong family history of colon cancer or cancer-related conditions can change recommendations for colon screening and preventive measures that may be taken.

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.


True — Although 75 percent of patients with colon cancer have no symptoms, the following symptoms may point to colon cancer:

• a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days

• a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that isn’t relieved by doing so

• rectal bleeding

• dark stools or blood in the stool

• cramping or abdominal (belly) pain

• weakness and fatigue

• unintended weight loss

Because 75 percent of patients with colon cancer have no symptoms, and 75 percent of patients with colorectal cancer have no family history — starting patient colon cancer screening at age 50 is very important.

There are several different colorectal cancer screening tests that are used for detecting colon cancer. They should be done at the recommended intervals.

A person’s genetic background is an important factor in colon cancer risk.


True — The Inherited Colorectal Cancer and Familial Polyposis Registry at Washington University School of Medicine and the Siteman Cancer Center offers clinical resources to families with inherited colorectal cancer syndromes with a goal of reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer.

Up to 5-6 percent of all colon cancers in the United States are caused by inherited colon cancer syndromes. Most patients in the registry have familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), an inherited condition in which polyps inevitably progress to cancer if not removed. Others have hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), which results in cancers of the colon (primarily), uterus, ovaries, urinary tract and stomach. Other inherited conditions include MYH-associated polyposis (MAP) and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS).

By enrolling in the registry, patients gain access to educational events, relevant literature and timely reminders for follow-up appointments to ensure they are receiving the best preventive care possible. Membership in the registry is free, and patients with inherited colorectal cancer syndromes are highly encouraged to become involved.

The registry offers:

* educational events and literature on inherited colorectal cancer syndromes

* a multidisciplinary care team, including colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists, genetic counselors and a registry coordinator

* opportunities to become involved in research related to inherited colorectal cancer syndromes

* the latest updates on genetic testing, screening guidelines, research findings, current studies and other pertinent news

For more information, visit the Inherited Colorectal Cancer and Familial Polyposis Registry website,

Most people should start colorectal screening at age 50.


True — People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening at age 50. Those who have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer should talk with a health care provider about starting screening when they’re younger and/or getting screened more often.

Sources: Siteman Cancer Center and American Cancer Society

Commit to Colorectal Cancer Awareness in March

Five winners will be chosen from all entries to receive a Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker. To be eligible, complete this form and submit it by March 31, 2019. Winners will be announced in BJC TODAY and on BJCnet.

By entering my name below, I pledge:

  • To have a screening test or encourage a family member or friend to have a screening test for colorectal cancer based on the American Cancer Society guidelines or the advice of my doctor during 2019 
  • To promote healthy nutrition and exercise during 2019

* = Required Information