Hello, my name is Gregory. When I was a young lad, I had to enter the health care world in an unexpected way. I developed a serious disease out of the blue that took doctors by surprise. I went through so many different testing procedures before my doctors could diagnose the rare disease. Everyone around me reeled as they tried to understand the purpose and process of the diagnostic tests. I hope to help others understand these important tests better through this website. Please come by often to learn all you need to know about medical diagnostics and working closely with health care professionals.
As the second-leading cancer-related cause of death in the United States, colon cancer affects over 136,000 and kills over 50,000 people per year, says the Colon Cancer Alliance. While the disease usually affects those over the age of 50, it can strike at any time. While some types of colon cancer are hereditary, many times, the disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes and regular screenings. Learn what you can do to reduce the chance that you will develop colon cancer.
1. Get tested. If you are over the age of 50 or you are at high familial risk, your doctor will suggest that you have regular colonoscopies. This procedure is mildly uncomfortable and some find it embarrassing, but it can literally save your life. During a colonoscopy, a scope is placed in your rectum and up into the large intestine, or colon. If there are any polyps, your doctor will remove them, and if there are areas of suspicious-looking tissue, the doctor will perform a biopsy. Many times, colon cancer begins in noncancerous polyps, so removing them reduces your risk.
2. Quit smoking. Smoking not only can cause lung and oral cancers, but also may raise your risk of developing colon cancer. If you currently smoke, quitting can reduce your risk. Talk to your doctor if you want to quit smoking; most people find it difficult, and there are several medical options that can help you combat your addiction.
3. Eat more fiber. People who eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Boost your fiber intake so you are eating at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. For the average adult who eats 2,000 calories, this adds up to 28 grams of fiber per day. Some foods that are high in fiber include most fruits and vegetables, particularly if you eat the skin, when edible. Also, whole grains such as oatmeal contain fiber.
4. Get moving. If you have a sedentary lifestyle and do not exercise or move around much, you might be more likely to develop colon cancer. Getting into the habit of being more physical can be difficult, particularly if you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time. Try setting a timer to go off every 20 or 30 minutes so you can get up and walk around. Also, try adding a 30-minute walk (or two 15-minute walks) into your day, and use strategies like parking far away from the grocery store to help you get the movement you need.
5. Lose weight. Obesity, diabetes and other conditions associated with excess weight can increase your risk of colon cancer. While eating less fat and more fiber and exercising more will help you lose weight, consider talking to your doctor about other ways you might be able to shed extra pounds.
6. Watch for symptoms. If you see any symptoms of early colon cancer, see your doctor promptly. Colon cancer is treatable if it is caught early. Some symptoms to watch for include a change in your bowel habits, blood in your stool, frequent or constant abdominal discomfort, excess gas, feeling like you can't fully empty your bowel and unintentional or unexplained weight loss.
Colon cancer is scary and affects many people, but it's also treatable. Don't let embarrassment stop you from talking to your doctor about any symptoms that you may be having or prevent you from scheduling a colonoscopy or other tests that might rule out or confirm the condition. If the disease is detected early, it can be stopped before it spreads.