“Listening to your gut” isn’t just an expression anymore. It is becoming increasingly more important to monitor the behavior of your digestive health and seek advice from a doctor when you experience something that seems out of the ordinary for your body. While it can be perfectly normal to experience lower belly pain or discomfort, a change in bowel movements, or abnormal stools from time to time, it is important to keep tabs on these changes and alert your physician if it persists for a longer than a week.
Understanding your body and these types of symptoms can lead to better overall health, but perhaps more importantly, abnormal bowel and digestive health can be connected to colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancers) diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, with an expected 49,000 deaths in the US during 2016.
Doctors recommend preventative screening exams such as colonoscopies beginning at age 50 for both men and women who are not at an increased risk of colorectal cancers. For those who fall into an increased risk group (family history of the disease, certain genetic conditions), it is important to consult your gastroenterologist about receiving these screening colonoscopies earlier. Aside from genetics and family history, there are body or lifestyle choices that could predispose you to the disease. Being overweight, lack of physical activity, heavy alcohol use, having Type 2 Diabetes, and smoking are all conditions to monitor.
The best part about early monitoring of colon cancer is that it can be easy to treat when it is caught early. The American Cancer Society indicates that patients with stage 1 colon cancer can expect a 92% five year survival rate with treatment. The doctors at GI Associates in Jackson, Mississippi are experts in the field of gastroenterology.
Gastroenterologists are more likely to find precancerous polyps due to their additional training and extensive experience. In today's healthcare climate you should know that you have the right to ask for a gastroenterologist to perform your screening. It really does make a difference.with any concerns.