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Rectal Cancer Prevention

Unlike some other forms of cancer, rectal cancer is preventable. Most develop from polyps, which are unusual growths that develop on the wall of the rectum. A doctor can spot and remove polyps during rectal screenings called colonoscopies.

Get Screened Regularly for Colon Cancer

While polyps themselves are not cancerous, they can grow into cancer. That’s why your doctor will remove them if they are found during a colonoscopy. Removing the polyps significantly decreases your risk of cancer.

Some people are afraid of getting screened for rectal cancer out of fear that the doctor will find something. But, the earlier cancer is found, the more treatable it is. In fact, most early-stage rectal cancer can be cured.

Learn more about rectal cancer screening.

Make Healthy Choices

A healthy lifestyle may also help prevent rectal cancer, based on some studies. Consider taking the following steps to lower your risk of developing colon cancer:

  1. Get screened every 10 years, starting at age 45
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Eat a low-fat diet and less red meat
  5. Consume more fruits and vegetables
  6. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol

If you are considered to be at a high risk of developing this type of cancer, talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, as you may need to be screened earlier or more frequently. A genetic counselor can also help you manage your risk if it runs in your family.

Read about risk factors for rectal cancer.

Schedule Your Colonoscopy


Our Locations

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital
The Cancer Center
3001 South Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

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