Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 140,000 new colon cancer cases will be diagnosed this year – 50,000 of which will be fatal.
However, due to advancements in prevention, early detection and treatment, there are currently more than a million colon cancer survivors alive in the United States today. In effort to continue to increase awareness on cancer prevention and early detection, UnityPoint Health – Trinity shares what every man and woman should know about colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Risk Factors
Both men and women are at equal risk for developing colon cancer. While some colon cancer risk factors are considered lifestyle choices, such as diet, obesity and smoking, there are some colon cancer risk factors that are out of your control. If you identify with any of the following risk factors, your chances of developing colon cancer may be higher:
- Older age – The majority of colon cancer cases are diagnosed in people age 50 and older. While colon cancer can occur in younger people, it is less common.
- African-American Race – Studies show that African-Americans have a greater risk of developing colon cancer than do people of other races in the United States.
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps – If you or someone in your immediate family has already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, your colon cancer risk may be higher in the future.
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions – Having ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or other chronic inflammatory disease of the colon can increase your colon cancer risk.
Having colon cancer risk factors does not necessarily mean you are destined to develop the disease. Consult your doctor to learn more about prevention and early detection.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms and receiving colon cancer treatment at the first signs is essential to increasing your chance of survival. However, colon cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop. Especially for those who are at high risk, recognize the following colon cancer symptoms and contact your doctor immediately if they occur:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Lump in abdomen
- Red or dark blood in stool
- Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
Colon Cancer Prevention
While there is no proven method to prevent colon cancer, there are certain healthy lifestyle changes you can make in order to reduce your chances of developing the disease.
Diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in red and processed meats are linked with colon cancer risk. Make sure to also include the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D into your diet.
Being active is an important part of staying healthy and may also lower your risk for certain types of cancer. Strive to engage in high-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Consult your doctor about safe exercise guidelines if you have preexisting medical conditions.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Most studies show that carrying extra weight (especially around the waistline) increases a person’s risk of developing colon cancer. Strive to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and increasing your level of physical activity.
Smoking is linked to a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. To reduce your risk of colon cancer, quit (or don’t start) smoking and reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke.
Colon Cancer Detection & Treatment
Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful methods for detecting cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. Men and women who have no identified risk factors should begin colon cancer screenings at age 50. Those who are at high risk for developing colon cancer should speak with their primary care physician about beginning screening at an earlier age.
In the event that colon cancer is found, you can rely on colon cancer treatment at UnityPoint Health – Trinity Cancer Center to offer access to the latest colon cancer clinical trials, research and technology to nurture the best outcomes possible.
Want to spread the word? Share this infographic with at least one man or woman in your life to raise colon cancer awareness and potentially save a life!