Mississippi State Department of Health

Colorectal Cancer


Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Almost 150,000 U.S. men and women a year are estimated to have colorectal cancer, and as many as 55,000 die from it.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers since it typically develops from polyps that can be detected and removed before they become cancerous.


  • Get regular screening tests
  • Exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Don't smoke, and don't drink alcohol excessively.

Mississippians Speak

Gastroenterologist Samuel Pace, M.D., talks about his personal experience with colon cancer and the importance of screening. View full size

At Risk

  • Men and women age 45 and older
  • People with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps
  • People with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • People with a family history of inherited colorectal cancer
  • People who use tobacco
  • People who are obese or sedentary

James Rasberry, a Mississippi colon cancer survivor, talks about his cancer discovery and the importance of screening. View full size


Symptoms are your best early warning of possible cancer. Early detection means that treatment has a greater chance of being successful, increasing your odds of a longer and healthier life. Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in or on the stool (bright red)
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness or cramps)
  • Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Frequent gas pains
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting

Verbia Harden, 54, of Jackson knew she was overdue for her first colorectal cancer screening. She acted just in time, getting screened and detecting her cancer before it became inoperable. View full size

Early Detection

Men and women at average risk should begin regular screening at age 45. If you are at greater risk, you may need to begin regular colorectal cancer screening at an earlier age. There are many options for screening:

More information

Links referenced on this page
More about screening    https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/tests.htm
View full size    https://youtu.be/F4YrFfP2g_8
View full size    https://youtu.be/MwKhl0-7VPk?rel=0
View full size    https://youtu.be/MwKhl0-7VPk?rel=0
Colorectal cancer information    https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html
More about screening and who needs it    https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/tests.htm
Pruebas de detección de cáncer colorrectal    https://www.cdc.gov/spanish/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/tests.htm
More about colorectal cancer from the CDC    https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/what-is-colorectal-cancer.htm

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

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