Colon cancer is the third most common cancer found in both men and women, and is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Fortunately, when this cancer is found and treated early, the chances of a full recovery are favorable.
While most individuals are at average risk of developing colon cancer, there are those who are at higher risk due to factors such as:
A personal or family history of colon cancer
Certain inherited conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch Syndrome, or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
A personal history of an inflammatory bowel disease such Crohn's or ulcerative colitis
Colon cancer and colorectal polyps don't always produce symptoms, especially in early stages, which is why regular screening is so important. Examples of symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
A change in bowel habits
Abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don't go away
Unexplained weight loss
Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their primary care provider to ensure proper and timely evaluation. Though these CAN be symptoms of colon cancer, they can also indicate other health issues unrelated to cancer.
At this time, there is no cure for colon cancer. But there are many things individuals can do in their day-to-day lives to help reduce their risk and nurture their overall health.
Eating right - medical experts recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, veggies and whole grains. Not only can this diet help reduce the risk of colon cancer, it also helps prevent other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Lifestyle changes - making healthy choices like regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Low-dose Aspirin - The U.S Preventitive Services Task Force's recent research has found that taking a low-dose aspirin daily can help prevent colon cancer in some adults, depending on age and risk factors.
NOTE: It is always a good idea to talk to your primary care provider before making any big lifestyle changes or taking new medications.
For more information on colon cancer, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/