Articles Colon Cancer

Kirstie Alley's recent death from colon cancer has once again brought the disease to the forefront of our minds. According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is a disease with more than 106,000 new cases in 2022. It is the third diagnosed cancer in the United States outside of skin cancers.

Our busy lives make it easy to forget about taking care of ourselves. We often miss essential checkups or screenings because we're too busy.

Although there are screenings that have resulted in a decline in colon cancer diagnoses since the 1980s, it is still the third leading cause of death related to cancer. In 2022, there will be more than 52,000 expected deaths from colon cancer. However, early detection can help prevent these fatalities.

Colon cancer, what is it?

Colon cancer starts in the colon or large intestine. The large intestine, also called the colon, is a long tube-like organ near the base of the digestive system. After food passes through your stomach and small intestine, solid waste enters your colon. Waste then moves through your colon and exits your body when you have a bowel movement.

How Can Colon Cancer Begin?

Benign polyps, which are either knob-like or flat growths on the lining of the large intestine, usually originate from colon cancer. Sometimes symptoms such as bleeding, constipation, or blood in the stool result from these growths; however, more often than not, the cells produce no symptoms whatsoever, and people remain unaware that they have them. Polyps can be detected through a colonoscopy performed in a physician's office.

Although some polyps are non-cancerous, they may, over time, develop into cancer. This is why when a physician finds one or more during a colonoscopy, they usually remove them then and there.

Polyps generally don't form without a cause. If anyone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer, you're more likely to get them too. People over 50 years old also have a higher chance of developing colonic polyps. However, particular habits elevate the risk even further. They include obesity, smoking, consuming fatty foods, and alcohol excessively.

Who Is At The Most At Risk For Colon Cancer?

People can be at higher risk of colon cancer if they have a family history. Your physician or gastroenterologist will likely recommend you get screened at an earlier age for those with no family history of colon cancer. A Colonoscopy (screening) is recommended to begin at age 45.

Regardless of your age or family history, if you have any of the following signs or symptoms – abdominal pain, blood in stool, narrow stools, or a change in bowel habits – talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened for colon cancer. The more information you provide, such as when the pain started and how severe/often it is, the better they will be able to help you.

Why Are Colonoscopies Important?

Nobody looks forward to a colonoscopy, but it's an essential 30 minutes you can spend on protecting your health and lowering your risk of developing colon cancer.

While getting a colonoscopy may not be the most convenient, it can save your life. And that knowledge and relief are priceless.

Colon cancer is common. People over the age of 50 are most at risk for developing colon cancer, which is the third common type of cancer. It is also the second leading cause of cancer-related death.

Though it was once believed that only older adults got colon cancer, recent years have shown an increase in the rate of colon cancer in younger people. Anyone can get the disease– even healthy individuals who don't have a family history of it.

Colonoscopies are preventative. Many cancers are unpreventable, but colon cancer is one of the few exceptions. It begins with small growths called polyps that appear on the lining of the colon or rectum. With time, some of these polyps can become malignant. Luckily, during a colonoscopy, doctors will spot and remove these polyps. Therefore, by removing polyps, we also decrease the likelihood of developing colon cancer altogether.

Symptoms may be too late. Many people don't realize that colon cancer is preventable. Polyps and early-stage colon cancer are asymptomatic, so it may be too late when symptoms present themselves. A colonoscopy eliminates polyps before they can turn into cancer. So don't wait for symptoms; get ahead of the disease.

Colonoscopies aren't as bad as their reputation. The Drink for bowel preparation can be a turn-off for many people. But fortunately, cleansing formulas have improved taste and efficiency, so you can drink less of it than you used to.

Colonoscopies are accurate. Colonoscopies are widely considered the best way to detect cancer cells and large precancerous polyps in the colon, with a detection rate of more than 95%.

GI Associates encourages you to get screened. Give us a call and set up an appointment with one of our certified gastroenterologists. Your gastro health is essential, but even more so if your life. Please don't wait until it's too late.

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