Colon cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the U.S. and affects nearly 130,000 people each year. Adults everywhere should schedule a regular colon cancer screening to ensure that their colon is healthy and functional. These screenings are essential in diagnosing colon cancer as it is a silent and fast-moving cancer that often exhibits signs in its later stages. Some ways to reduce your risk of colon cancer include eating lots of vegetables, limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight. Find out how else you can protect yourself from colon cancer with these tips!
How Does Colon Cancer Develop?
One of the most silent but quickest-moving forms of cancer is colon cancer, and it affects more than 130,000 people in the U.S. each year. In fact, colon cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the U.S., so it’s no wonder that doctors and medical professionals are constantly encouraging their patients to be tested for it. Unfortunately, most colon cancer cases have no cause behind their development. While colon cancer typically develops in older adults, it can happen to anyone. The first stages of colon cancer appear as polyps on the inside of the colon. These polyps are often benign, non-cancerous lumps, but can turn cancerous over time. Polyps are typically small and few in number, and are easily treated. As with other cancers, once-healthy cells in a person’s DNA mutates and continues to divide, even when they’re cancerous. As these cells continue to grow, they eventually form a cancerous tumor. Polyps are one of the first signs during this process that something unhealthy may be growing in your colon. However, since you can’t physically see the polyps in your colon, it’s always a good idea to meet regularly with your doctor for a screening. While it may be easy to put off a screening, if you begin to exhibit signs of colon cancer, such as rectal bleeding, blood in your stool, persistent diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, weakness, fatigue or continuous abdominal discomfort, you should meet with your doctor immediately. These are tell-tale signs that something is wrong with your colon, and an early evaluation could be the difference between life and death.
What To Expect During A Colon Cancer Screening
If you’re experiencing some of the aforementioned symptoms of colon cancer or have a family history of it, make sure to schedule a colon cancer screening with your medical provider. Colon cancer screenings can identify colon problems before polyps even develop, and this allows for early treatment. Unfortunately, when you do notice signs of colon cancer, that typically means that it is in its advanced stages since there are almost no symptoms when it first develops. That’s why colon cancer screenings are so essential and life-saving. A standard colonoscopy is one of the first tests that are offered to patients to test for signs of cancer, especially if this type of cancer is present in your family. Using a lighted tube, the entire colon and rectum are examined during a colonoscopy, and any growths will be removed during this process. A colon cancer screening can also include a stool DNA test (FIT-DNA) to check your stool for trace amounts of blood. You’ll collect your stool sample with a kit that will be given to you in the office, which will then be sent to a laboratory for evaluation and diagnosis. DNA from cells in the lining of the colon make their way into your stool, which is why they can accurately identify colon cancer this way. Both your stool and blood will be analyzed for specific biomarkers that indicate cancer. For patients whose stool DNA test comes back positive, most are encouraged to have a colonoscopy performed to ensure 100% accuracy.
Ways To Prevent Colon Cancer
While many people can’t prevent colon cancer from developing due to genetics or certain medical conditions, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. However, there are specific lifestyle factors that increase your chances of cancer and should be done away with. Some of these include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. Those who smoke often or for long periods of time have a higher chance of not only developing colon cancer but dying from it, as well. If you’re going to drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a man. Being obese and inactive increases colon cancer development, so make sure that you’re exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet full of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. These three food groups have been linked to a decreased risk of colon cancer as they help flush your system of toxins. Last but not least, get a colon cancer screening. These screenings are what identify potentially cancerous polyps in your colon and remove them before they can mutate into something worse. The average age for men and women to begin regular colon cancer screenings is 45, but this number may vary depending on your family and personal health history.
Protect Your Health With Our Help!
At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we offer in-depth colon cancer screenings to make sure that your colon health is where it should be. Whether you’re due for your yearly checkup or are exhibiting symptoms, we can help you as you go through this process. Call our office at (970) 631-8286 to schedule an appointment and get your health back on track!