Understanding Colon Cancer

posted Mar 23, 2010, 9:17 AM by Sara@LS   [ updated Mar 23, 2010, 9:41 AM ]

Understanding Colon Cancer

 

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, occurs in the colon and/or rectum and develops slowly. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Understanding it is the first phase of prevention.

 

While the cause of colon cancer remains unknown, it does evolve from non-cancerous colorectal polyps (growths inside the colon or rectum.) Your risk might be higher if you have:

·         A past history of cancer

·         Colorectal polyps

·         Crohn’s disease

·         A family history of colon cancer

·         Genetic syndromes

·         Poor lifestyle habits

 

Sometimes colon cancer has no symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they may mimic acid-reflux disease or stomach discomfort, making colon cancer hard to detect without a screening. Symptoms might begin as abdominal pain or tenderness, changes in bowel habits, or unexpected weight lost.

 

Screenings can detect colon cancer in its most treatable stage, before symptoms appear. Regular screenings after age 50 are recommended.

 

Available Colon Cancer Screening Options

Screening

Frequency

Colonoscopy

Every 10 years

Sigmoidoscopy

Every 5 years

Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

Every 5 years

Double-contrast Barium Enema

Every 5 years

Stool Occult Blood Test

Annually

These guidelines are based on the recommendations of the American Cancer Society, 2009.

 

To find out which type of screening is right for you speak with your doctor. He or she will be able to advise you on what precautions are right for you. One precaution you can start taking right now is leading a healthier lifestyle:

·         Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

·         Avoid foods that are high in fat

·         Limit red meat consumption

·         Exercise regularly

·         Eliminate tobacco

 

The good news is that survival rates for colon cancer have improved over the last fifteen years thanks to heightened awareness and an increase in screenings. By taking care of yourself, you can significantly reduce your risk.

 

Source: The American Cancer Society

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Sara@LS,
Mar 23, 2010, 9:41 AM
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