Governor Terry Branstad has signed a proclamation declaring March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in the State of Iowa. Nurse Lynn Fisher of Washington County Public Health believes colorectal cancer is an important health problem people should be aware of, because often people who have it don’t show any symptoms. The symptoms they might display, which includes bloody stool, unexplained weight-loss, and abdominal pain, can also be mistaken for other medical disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Because of this, Fisher says it’s important to receive yearly screenings for colorectal cancer once you turn 50-years-old.

There is research being conducted by the medical community to find the cause of colorectal cancer, and Fisher says they have identified a few contributing factors. She explains, “There are some research studies that suggest a diet low in fiber might be a correlation with colorectal cancer. Also links to alcohol use and tobacco smoking, also obesity. But I don’t think the state of the science has yet to point exactly to those and say ‘That causes colorectal cancer.’” Additionally, Fisher says a person who has Crohn’s disease is at a higher risk of colorectal cancer, and a family history can increase a person’s susceptibility as well, much like breast cancer. For more information about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, listen to the In Touch with Southeast Iowa interview with Fisher at