It’s not a conversation anyone wants to have. But since March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it’s as good a time as any to educate yourself – and potentially save your life or someone else’s.
Colorectal cancer begins in the large intestine when polyps form inside the colon and over time become cancers.
While 90% of colorectal cancer is found in people over 50 years old, the numbers are rising in young adults because they are more likely to get diagnosed during the later stages when it’s harder to treat. There are no certain causes for colon cancer, but there are certain risk factors that can increase the risk.
- Inflammatory intestinal issues like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family History
- Low-fiber, high-fat diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
Symptoms of colon cancer may not be visible in the early stages. It’s recommended that people consider colon cancer screenings at age 50, unless you have an increased risk due to one of the aforementioned factors. The following are symptoms and signs of colon cancer:
- Persistent change in bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomforts like cramps, gas, or pain
- Feeling that your bowels are never completely empty
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
You can reduce your risk of colon cancer by taking steps to reduce risks. Make changes in your everyday life by:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
- Quit smoking
- Exercise most days of the week
- Maintain a healthy weight
Colon cancer is curable, especially if caught in the early stages. However, patients with stage 4 have only a 10% chance of being cured. It’s all the more reason to understand the risks and reduce your risks every day.
If you are over 45, testing is critical. Early detection can produce far better outcomes… and even save lives. Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer testing today.