We continue our series for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Many people don't realize this type is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

In 2021 the American Cancer Society estimates more than 150,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 

"When he told me that we found a tumor and ‘you have cancer,’ I couldn’t even hear the rest of what he was saying," said Kevin Hays.

Hays never thought he could get colon cancer at age 28.

"I had some symptoms of colon cancer, just didn’t see it coming," he said.

Some of the most commonly overlooked signs are cramps, fatigue, and sudden weight loss. And pay attention to irregular bowel movements or signs of blood.

Dr. Patrick Boland of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute has seen patients dismiss their symptoms.

"We know there’s a longer duration between the onset of symptoms and when they’re actually diagnosed because no one suspects colon or rectal cancer," he said.

Two more telltale signs are shortness of breath or a diagnosis of anemia, which signals internal bleeding. If you notice dizziness, fatigue, or unusual skin paleness, get checked for anemia and then follow with a colon cancer test.

Doctors say it's not uncommon for patients to bleed internally for up to six months before anything shows up in their stool.

You can lower your risk by as much as 45% just by maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and exercise routine!