Almost 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with the 2nd deadliest form of cancer, colon cancer. The possibility of contracting the disease increases with age. But, even with the dangers of contracting colon cancer, it actually has a 90% survival rate when detected early enough.
Regular screening is an important and vital part of your yearly checkup goals after age 45. Read on to learn about early colorectal cancer symptoms, ways to prevent it, and what to do post-diagnosis.
Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer
While not always noticeable, some early colon cancer symptoms can often be assumed to be mild GI upset. It’s important to pay attention to changes in bowel habits. This means that a patient could suddenly be constipated regularly, or they could experience frequent diarrhea suddenly. Both constipation and diarrhea are early signs; they just wouldn’t appear concurrently.
Beyond changes in bowel habits, there are some other early warning colon cancer signs to note, such as unexplained anemia, extreme and frequent fatigue, unintended weight loss, and other GI problems such as vomiting, nausea, or abdominal pain and cramping. Even if you’re only experiencing one of the above symptoms, if they persist, it’s wise to inform your physician about your symptoms and make an appointment.
Can I Prevent Colon Cancer?
Genetics may play a role in increasing the risk of colon cancer, such as those of Ashkenazi Jewish or African-American descent. Additionally, people with a history of inherited syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome can be at higher risk.
What patients can do, however, is to be well aware of their family history and inform their physician of any first-degree relatives who has had colon cancer, polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
As with many health issues, being overweight, smoking, drinking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are all strongly linked to colon cancer. Patients are advised to eat a diet full of fiber and leafy greens, exercise regularly, quit smoking, and curtail drinking. Red and processed meat consumption are also linked with colon cancer development, especially in women.
Is Colon Cancer Treatable?
Colon cancer is much harder to treat when it progresses to the later stages. This is why it’s so important to know the early signs of colon cancer and to schedule regular screenings. The American Cancer Society suggests that every adult 45 and over schedule a colonoscopy with their provider.
Colonoscopy is the primary, and preferred, method of detecting colon cancer but is also an effective way to prevent it. Colon cancer begins as polyps, which can appear both in the colon and rectum (thus, the term colorectal cancer). As the doctor uses the colonoscopy to detect cancerous or precancerous polyps, they may also be able to remove them.
Early detection truly saves lives. If you need more information about colon cancer signs and symptoms, need to speak with a physician, or want to schedule a screening for a colonoscopy, request an appointment at GI Associates & Endoscopy Center today.