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Get screened

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently lowered the recommended age for colorectal cancer screening from 50 years old to 45 years old.

That’s due to a large number of younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer.

“It’s truly the most preventable cancer we have,” said Dr. Nicole Pisapia, gastroenterologist at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Regular screening can find growths that can be removed before they turn into cancer, as well as find cancer early when treatment works best.

It’s estimated that 150,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year. More than 50,000 people die from it each year.

Knowing the symptoms of colorectal cancer and understanding your risks may prevent this from happening or help you get diagnosed early.

Symptoms include:

Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool

Ongoing changes in bowel habits. This includes abnormal stool colors, which includes black, tarry stools, clay-colored stools, deep red stools or white-colored stools.

Stools that are narrower than usual.

Frequent gas pains, bloating, a feeling of fullness or abdominal cramps

Weight loss for no known reason

Weakness and fatigue

However, it’s not uncommon for individuals diagnosed in the early stages to not experience any colorectal cancer symptoms.

Anyone can get colorectal cancer. The lifetime risk is 1 in 20. Over 90 percent of those diagnosed are over 50. Your risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age.

Average risk factors include inactivity, obesity, little fruit, vegetable and fiber consumption, smoking, heavy alcohol use, a diet high in red meat, processed meats and fats, and meat preparation including frying, grilling, broiling or other methods of cooking at very high temperatures.

Regular screenings can find polyps and remove them before the cancer can begin to grow and develop into early stage cancer. If caught early, it is highly treatable.

For more information about colorectal cancer, visit

Visit to find out how to make an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists.

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