Colon Cancer Awareness Month
The month of March is typically known for its abundance of shamrocks and leprechauns, Easter outfits and spring fever. Most important, however, is the fact that March is colon cancer awareness month.
Colon cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer among men and women, ranking second for amount of cancer deaths in the U.S. However, if everyone followed the recommended screening guidelines, 50% of all lives lost to colon cancer could be saved
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer, or colorectical cancer, is a cancer in the lower part of the digestive system which starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon). Colon cancer develops from abnormal cell growth in the rectum or parts of the large intestine, which start out as noncancerous (benign) polyps. These polyps slowly develop into cancer.
How do you know if you have colon cancer?
Many colon cancer cases do not have symptoms, so it is important to have a colon cancer screening. Symptoms that may indicate colon cancer include:
- abdominal pain and tenderness in lower abdomen
- blood in stool
- diarrhea, constipation, or changes in bowel habits
- narrow stools
- weight loss with no known reason
There are some different ways to detect colon cancer. Screenings may consist of different methods. Some procedure options to detect colon cancer include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, or fecal occult blood test. To determine the best way for you to get tested for colon cancer, talk to your healthcare provider.
Getting a colonoscopy is the best prevention to developing colon cancer. Know the risks of colon cancer and your personal risk. Both men and women over the age of 50 should have a colon cancer screening periodically, and people with higher risk may need earlier screening.
Higher risk factors for developing colon cancer include:
- Over the age of 60
- African American, or of eastern European descent
- Eat a lot of red and processed meats
- Have colorectal polyps
- Have inflammatory bowel disease (Chrome’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Family history of colon cancer
- Personal history of breast cancer
A colonoscopy can almost always catch colon cancer in the early, most curable stages. Early diagnosis of colon cancer can lead to a complete cure
. Because colon or rectal polyps can be detected through screening and thus prevented from becoming cancerous, it is important to be aware of colon cancer and risks associated with it. This month, make it a priority to talk to your healthcare provider about colon cancer detection if you or someone you love has any of the increased risk factors. Staying informed about your body can help you to take appropriate action so you can enjoy the rest of your life.
Resources for this post:
Web MD: http://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/default.htm
Pub Med Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001308/
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