The occurrence of colon cancer has reached staggering numbers in the US alone. The progressive disease can quickly take over healthy function and metastasize rapidly leaving many patients with little hope of improvement. Fortunately, with reliance on advanced technology, the earlier colon cancer is detected the better the prognosis. We provide important colon cancer facts that every person needs to know.
Screening is Only for People with Bowel Problems
Individuals who have normal bowel movements and feel relatively good may think that a colon screen is not for them. Unfortunately colon cancer is a very tricky and sneaky disease. You can feel great one day and the next be overcome by bloating, cramping and bloody stools. If you have a history colon cancer in the family, it is imperative that you have regular screens performed even if you feel fine.
Only Men are at Risk of Colon Cancer
This is false. Both men and women can suffer from the devastating impact of colon cancer. The cancer is known to increase in risk the older you get. Men in their 50s and older, are at much higher risk of developing colon cancer than younger men and women! Studies have also shown that factors including ethnicity and history of family cancer can increase your risk especially if you are over the age of 60.
Receive a Colon Screen
The scheduled colon screen can identify the presence of cancer quickly. It ensures that the appropriate intervention is provided on time to provide patients a fighting chance of overcoming the disease. Do not wait to take action but have yourself screened and tested today. If you notice any changes in your bowel condition, it is important the appropriate medical assistance be sought. The efficient action you take today could save your life tomorrow.
Colon cancer may be inherited.
People with a family history of colon cancer have two to five times more risk of having colon cancer. Some people may inherit colon cancer syndromes that increase their risk of developing the disease to nearly 100 percent. In anyone who has multiple family members with colon cancer or relatives diagnosed with colon cancer at a young age, genetic testing should be considered.
People with colon cancer may feel completely healthy.
There may be subtle signs and symptoms if a person has colon cancer including fatigue, weakness, weight loss, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. However, many people with colon cancer have no symptoms at all, especially during the early stages. This is why screening for colon cancer is extremely important.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer.
Most colon cancers develop from small growths in the lining of the colon and rectum, called polyps. Certain types of polyps grow over time and transform into cancer. Finding and removing these “pre-cancerous” polyps can prevent the colon cancer.
Colonoscopy is the most effective colorectal cancer screening test.
There are several types of colorectal screening and detection tests, such as:
- Stool testing
- Radiological imaging (virtual colonoscopy)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy.
However, colonoscopy is the only test in which the entire colon can be visualized using a colonoscope and pre-cancerous polyps can be removed. Cancer risk is reduced 90 percent after colonoscopy and polyp removal, the American College of Gastroenterology estimates.
All men and women should have a colonoscopy at age 50.
Routine colon cancer screening is recommended for everyone at age 50. Those at higher risk of colon cancer including people with a family history of colon cancer, inherited colorectal cancer syndrome, known predisposing gastrointestinal disorder or those of African-American descent should be screened earlier than age 50. A screening colonoscopy usually is covered by insurance.
Colorectal screening saves lives.
Early detection of colon cancer through screening can save a person’s life. The 5-year survival rate after detection and treatment of early-stage colon cancer can be as high as 90 percent. Unfortunately, the 5-year survival rate after treatment of late-stage colon cancer is as low as 12 percent. Treatment of colon cancer is much more effective and even curable if it is detected early.
Many Americans are not being screened for colon cancer when they should, despite the life-saving benefits.
According to the CDC, up to a third of people are not up to date on current colorectal cancer screening recommendations. The majority of these people have never had any screening test performed.
Adopting healthy habits may help lower your colorectal cancer risk, too.
A healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits and whole grain fiber and is low in fats is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. Avoiding tobacco and heavy alcohol use can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. Regular physical activity and maintaining a normal body weight are beneficial as well.
Now that you know the facts, talk to your primary care provider about your colorectal cancer risks and when you would need to be screened.