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Home News Colorectal cancer screening saves lives
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) recognizes the month of March as the annual observance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness. March is an opportunity to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and to share current information about its causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and cure. Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that can develop in your large intestine or rectum. 

“We recommend that people start getting checked for colorectal cancer at age 45 because this is when your risk of developing the cancer goes up, and catching it early means better treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Laura Parajon, Deputy DOH Secretary.  “However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain medical conditions, your doctor may recommend starting screening at a younger age. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.” 

Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:  

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer. 

Colorectal cancer screening can save lives in two ways. Screening tests can prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) that can be removed before cancer ever develops. Screening also can find colorectal cancer early when treatment is most effective.  Several types of screening tests exist that can reduce deaths from colorectal cancer, including stool tests, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and CT colonography.

Another reason screening for colorectal cancer is so important, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it.  Some symptoms of colorectal cancer include:  

  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away. 
  • Losing weight and you don’t know why. 

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.   

DOH’s Comprehensive Cancer Program reports that among cancers that affect adults, colorectal cancer is our state’s second most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer related death. It causes over 300 deaths in New Mexico annually, that's nearly ten percent of the state’s cancer related deaths overall. Colorectal cancer is diagnosed in the colon or rectum, leading to approximately 850 new cases of colorectal cancer in New Mexico every year. 

In addition to screening, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer including avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity. 

For more information about colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor or health care provider or visit

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Las pruebas de detección del cáncer colorrectal salvan vidas