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Men and women over age 50 are encouraged to get screened for colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers among New Yorkers.

It is estimated that one in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.

“Each year in New York State, more than 10,000 people develop cancer of the colon and rectum, and nearly 3,500 New Yorkers die from this disease,” Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services, said recently in a press release. However, a large number of New Yorkers remain unaware of their risk and many are not being screened at recommended intervals.

Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, men and women alike, but the risk increases with age, and about 60 percent of those newly diagnosed with cancer of the colon and rectum are age 65 and over.

The Chautauqua County Cancer Services program provides the following tips to prevent the potentially fatal disease:

1. Know your family history: Some people are at greater risk for the disease than others, such as those with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, history of intestinal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, and people with a history of certain inherited diseases, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer.

2. Get screened: Colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early through regular screening. Begin regular screening at age 50. If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, or a personal history of another cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your health care provider about getting screened before age 50.

3. Eat healthy: Enjoy a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains from breads, cereals, nuts and beans. Eat foods with folate, such as green, leafy vegetables. A daily multivitamin containing 0.4mg of folic acid may also be helpful.

4. Don’t smoke and skip alcohol: If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.

5. Get moving: Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing may help reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.

“Talking with your health care provider about screening is vital to preventing colorectal cancer,” Schuyler said. “Colorectal cancer is easily treated and often curable when detected early. The tests are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many health insurers.”

Call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262) or visit nyhealth.gov/cancerservicesprogram for more information.