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Colon Cancer Awareness Is the Key to Prevention

Jessica Francis

colon cancer awareness

When my husband and I finished the pre-approval process to purchase our very first home, I couldn’t wait to get to the fun part – house hunting! I spent hours online scrolling through real estate listings and wondering which one would ultimately become our future home. There was one house in particular that my husband and I thought had a great deal of potential. It was a two-story colonial set in the historic district of our town, and it was listed at only a fraction of our budget. I instantly fell in love with its tall columns and wrap around porch, and I called our realtor right away to request a showing.

That’s where things took a turn.

Upon entering the house, we quickly noticed that things were not quite as they had seemed in the listing. The walls had cracks, doors did not close properly, floors were sloping, and we noticed separations in the crown molding. These cosmetic defects were actually symptoms of a much bigger problem – foundation issues. Needless to say, that house didn’t make our final cut.

It’s no coincidence that the human body is often compared to a house. Symptoms that we may deem minor or insignificant can actually paint a much bigger picture of our overall health. And in some cases, they can indicate trouble.

Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. Despite the fact that it is one of the most preventable types of cancer, it claims the lives of nearly 50,000 individuals every year. One of the reasons that colon cancer is so deadly is that it is virtually undetectable in its earliest, most treatable stages. Many patients do not experience symptoms at all, and the ones who do may not take them seriously enough to seek medical treatment.

We at Stop Colon Cancer Now believe that education is the first step in protecting yourself against colon cancer. The better you understand the symptoms and risk factors of this disease, the more prepared you will be to identify trouble when you see it. The following are some symptoms that should prompt you to schedule an appointment with your doctor:

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as increased constipation, diarrhea or narrow stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased gas or bloating
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Stools that are bloody, black or tarry
  • Increased weakness, tiredness and fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms alone should not cause you to panic. Many of these symptoms can be attributed to conditions other than colon cancer, which is why it is crucial to discuss them with your doctor. During your appointment, your doctor will want to discuss other risk factors that could increase your odds of developing colon cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Age – More than 90 percent of all colon cancers occur in individuals over the age of 50.
  • Family history – Having a family member with colon cancer places you at higher risk for the disease. You may need to begin screenings at an earlier age for added protection.
  • Obesity – Individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop colon cancer and have a higher risk of dying from the disease.
  • Smoking and alcohol use – These lifestyle choices increase the risk of many cancers, including colon cancer.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Data published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicates that sedentary behavior is associated with a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Diet – A high-fat diet that frequently includes red meat or meats that are smoked or cured can increase your odds of developing colon cancer.

Most colon cancer screenings begin at the age of 50, but your personal symptoms and risk factors may require you to begin earlier screenings. Take our Screening Colonoscopy Age quiz to help you determine the best time to begin screening. Then, take your results with you to your next doctor’s appointment. Education, understanding and early detection are three tools that can arm you against one of America’s deadliest cancers.

 

Related articles:

The Downside of Being a Millennial—Increased Colon Cancer Risk

4 Steps to Colon Cancer Prevention



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