Colorectal, or Colon Cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States – claiming 50,000 lives each year. But according to the American Cancer Society, it is also one of the most preventable, beatable, and treatable types of cancer. Staying informed about the risks and preventive measures is the best way to stay healthy. Here are some ways you can lower your risk of getting colon cancer.
When it comes to successfully treating cancers – the early bird gets the worm. Colon cancer is no exception, as regular colorectal screenings can detect the presence of growths or polyps that act as a precursor to cancer. These small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps may eventually grow into colon cancers. But because it can take up to 15 years for them to mushroom, pinpointing and excising these growths early is highly effective for preventing disease.
Signs of Colon Cancer
Have you experienced changes in your bowel habits, chronic abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, or rectal bleeding? These are all signs of colon cancer. Because many of these symptoms do not appear in the disease’s premature stages, it’s best to receive regular colonoscopy screenings.
Age and Genetics
Screening is the first line of defense for colon cancer, and all patients over age 50 should schedule their regular screenings. However, those with a family history or genetic predisposition – such as Hereditary Non-polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), may be required to have screenings earlier and more frequently.
Diet and Digestion
A poor or inadequate diet, as well as a bad digestion system, can be detrimental to colon health. The good news is that you can change your diet with one visit to the market. Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consuming fiber and staying hydrated also help by cleaning your colon to allow it to work more efficiently. Another behavior you can control is the amount of alcohol you consume; be sure to limit your intake to the recommended daily limits (one drink for women and two for men).
A dormant lifestyle puts you at risk for an array of health problems, including colon cancer. As a rule, most people should strive to get 30 minutes of exercise each day. A recent study showed that just a half hour of activity a day improved colon cancer survival rates. Now, that’s a reason to get moving!
If you need yet another reason to quit this bad habit, hear this: long-term exposure to cigarette smoke raises your risk for developing colonic polyps and colon cancer. Your physician may be able to start you on a program to reduce your cravings and ween you off of this hazardous behavior.
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms of colon cancer, have a family history of the condition, or are over the age of 45 – it’s time to find a reputable gastroenterologist. The Board-certified physicians at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates are experienced with diagnosing and treating a variety of gastrointestinal conditions and liver diseases and are well-versed in helpful preventive measures. For more information, call Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates at 717-245-2228.