Colorectal Cancer: More Preventable Than Most Cancers
According to the American Cancer Society, one in 20 people will be diagnosed
with colon cancer (aka, colorectal cancer). And while over 90 percent
of colorectal cancers are found in adults over the age of 50, it can occur
at a much earlier age.
But there’s good news. Colorectal cancer is more preventable than most cancers. By finding and
removing precancerous polyps that can develop into cancer, doctors can
stop the cancer before it ever starts. Knowing the signs and symptoms
and understanding your risks is important. While your age, personal and
family histories are risks you cannot control, your lifestyle and diet
are controllable. Smoking, obesity, low physical activity and heavy alcohol
use are all linked to higher incidence of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms will vary from person to person, but the most common include:
- No signs or symptoms at all
- A change of bowel habits
- Blood in the stool
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Feeling very tired
When should you get screened?
Generally speaking, if you are 50 or older, schedule a colon cancer screening.
One in four people over 50 have polyps, a precursor to colon cancer. Those
with an increased risk may be advised by their primary care physician
for screening before the age of 50. African Americans and Native Americans
are at a higher risk for developing colon cancer and should begin screening
at age 45. If any of these risks apply to you, it’s time to talk
to your doctor about the best screening option for you.
And remember to encourage someone you love to get screened too –
it could save their life!
Click here to learn more about Baton Rouge General’s Gastroenterology Center.
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