What is Colon Cancer, and How to Detect it Early?
Colon cancer is a form of malignant tumor found in the digestive system, specifically in the last portion of the large intestine, called the colon. The disease develops slowly over time due to adenomatous polyps, which are growths that may become cancerous over time.
An estimated 106,970 new cases of colon cancer and 46,050 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the U.S., behind lung and prostate cancers.
Fortunately, there are ways to detect colon cancer early with simple tests and preventative measures. It is recommended that anyone at high risk or over the age of 45 gets tested for colon cancer. Preventative screening can detect colon cancer early when it is most treatable and possibly save your life.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
If you are experiencing any symptoms of colon cancer, it is important to not ignore them and get tested. Although it may not always be indicative of colon cancer, it is important to discuss any suspicious symptoms with a doctor in order to rule out or identify colon cancer as soon as possible.
Common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include blood in the stool (which can be dark or bright red), changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool, feeling full/crampy after eating only a little food, continuous abdominal discomforts such as cramps, gas or pain, fatigue, weakness, and unintentional weight loss.
Family History and Risk Factors
When trying to detect colon cancer early, family history, and risk factors are important considerations in the early detection of colon cancer.
Knowing whether or not anyone in your family has had colon cancer and at what age they were diagnosed can provide valuable information in assessing a person’s risk for developing colon cancer.
People with a family history of colon cancer, polyps, or Lynch Syndrome have a higher likelihood of developing colon cancer than those with no known family history. Lynch Syndrome, in particular, is an inherited genetic disorder that increases the risk of developing certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer, as well as endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, small intestine, and urinary tract cancers.
Other lifestyle components, such as physical activity level, smoking, and alcohol consumption, also play a role in risk assessment.
Lifestyle Changes and Prevention
Making lifestyle changes is key to preventing the development of colon cancer. To reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, it is important to maintain an active lifestyle and stay healthy through diet and exercise.
Exercise helps to reduce one’s risk of colon cancer by normalizing bowel movements and maintaining a healthy weight. Decreased fat intake, increased dietary fiber, and regular physical activity are all associated with decreased risks of developing colorectal cancer.
Additionally, stopping smoking and limiting alcohol consumption have been linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancers.
Although research does not support any one particular diet for affecting colon cancer risk, certain dietary patterns and intakes of certain foods may be beneficial in preventing the development of colon cancer.
High-fiber diets and diets high in fruits and vegetables appear to reduce the risk associated with colon cancer. On the other hand, diets that include processed and red meats may potentially increase the risk of colon cancer.
Screening for Colon Cancer
Screening for colon cancer is a potentially life-saving measure. A majority of colorectal cancers are preventable if they are found early when they are small and most curable.
While the effectiveness of colon cancer screenings has been widely studied, many people remain hesitant to begin routine screenings at the recommended age because of invasive procedures like colonoscopies. Other less invasive options are available for proactive colorectal screening, such as fecal tests and BeScreened’s blood-based screening tests.
A blood test can be a simple way to screen for colon cancer while not having an invasive procedure like a colonoscopy. BeScreened’s tests have been proven to be 94% accurate in identifying colon cancer. Order online today and get tested at your local Any Lab Test Now facility.
With this in mind, you can be sure you are taking the preventative measures to screen for colon cancer.