Each year there are approximately 95,000 new cases of colon cancer in the United States alone. Aside from skin cancers, it is the third most common cancer diagnosed each year. While this type of cancer has a high mortality rate, more people are getting regular colorectal cancer tests, which helps doctors identify and remove colorectal polyps before they can progress into cancer.
March is Colorectal Awareness Month. Have you scheduled an appointment for your colon caner screening? Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of colon cancer, the START Center for Cancer Care encourages you to schedule regular colorectal cancer tests to monitor your health. This will help your doctors identify and treat any issues before they become cancer. Early detection is key for successful treatment.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. While not all types of polyps become cancer, regular screenings can catch any potential issues early helping you avoid developing cancer.
What are the warning signs of colon cancer?
Regular health screenings to check the health of your colon and rectum, especially if you are over 50 years old, are extremely important because not all colon cancers have symptoms. Some common warning signs include:
- Change in bowel movements – Unexplained constipation, diarrhea or bowel incontinence can be a sign of colon cancer. If you notice that your stool is darker than usual or that it resembles tar, you may have blood in your stool and urine. Anytime you suspect blood in your stool or urine, it is important to get it checked right away, as it could be a warning sign of advancing colorectal cancer.
- Anemia – If you suddenly feel tired or sluggish for prolonged periods of time and napping doesn’t help, you may be at risk for colorectal cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss – If you haven’t changed your diet or increased your physical activity but are losing weight, you may have cancer cells that are using large amounts of energy.
- Vomiting, or gas pains – As the cancer grows, it can put pressure on or obstruct your gastrointestinal tract, which can be the reason for any unusual vomiting or gas pains.
How can I help prevent colorectal cancer?
While there is no known way to prevent colon cancer, here are a few things that may help lower your risk.
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Stop using tobacco products
- Limit alcohol consumption
Early detection is very important because it gives you the best chance for successful treatment. When you know what to look for and understand the signs of colon cancer, you can better manage your health. If you or someone you know are over the age of 50, have a family history of colon, rectal or other cancers, or are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician or gastroenterologist and get started with a colorectal health screening. If the results point to colorectal cancer, The START Center for Cancer Care will provide you and your loved ones with dedicated and compassionate physicians and staff and the individualized cancer care you deserve.