According to the American Cancer colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, estimating 49,190 deaths in 2016. Individuals over the age of 50 are at the highest risk of being affected. The good news is over the past 20 years, the death toll for colon cancer has significantly dropped due to technological advancements and early detection- highlighting the importance of regular screenings. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Colorectal Cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. It is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through routine screenings. According to Dr. Cary Gentry, Colon & Rectal Specialists, “Each year over 140,000 patients are diagnosed with colon cancer. It doesn’t have to be that large of a number. If patients and physicians work together, we can increase screening and prevent colon cancer.”
Take charge of your colon heath with the following information and tips.
Signs of Colon Cancer
Knowing your body is essential. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should make an appointment with your physician:
- Significant changes in bowel habits regarding consistency or frequency
- Abdominal cramping and bloating
- Unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite and fatigue
- Possible light or dark blood in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Weakness of fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
It is also important to note, that not all people with early stages of the disease experience symptoms. Thus, the importance of maintaining your health and annual screenings is key.
In most cases it is not clear what causes colon cancer. Most often, colon cancer begins as clumps of precancerous cells in the inside lining of the colon. The clumps can be flat or recessed into the wall of the colon, and removing the precancerous cells (polyps) before they become cancerous can prevent colon cancer.
Individuals between the ages of 50 and 75 should get yearly screenings. Here are several ways to lower the risk of colon cancer:
- Diet: Along with your physician, create an eating regimen that will allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to consume lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This not only helps reduce the risk of colon cancer, but helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Exercise: Speak with your doctor about what exercise program you can participate in to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Obesity has been closely linked with higher risk of colon cancer.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: When taken together, they have been proven to reduce the risk of adenoma formation. Ask your doctor about taking these supplements.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): NSAIDS, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can reduce the risk of diseases like colon cancer. Talk with your doctor about usage of this medication.
Know Your Risk Factors
Aside from your annual screenings and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is important for you to know you risk factors. There are several factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer.
Previous personal history of colon cancer
Family history of colon cancer
Previous history of inflammatory intestinal conditions
Low-fiber, high-fat diet
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Habitual smoking habits
Heavy alcohol consumption
Knowing your risks factors and the preventative measures you can take to reduce your risks of colorectal cancer are vital. Invest in your health by taking the time to get your screenings early.
Join Retreat Doctors’ Hospital and Dr. Cary Gentry with Colon and Rectal Specialists for a free educational seminar on what you can do to prevent colon cancer. Learn about the latest treatment options as Dr. Gentry speaks about the importance of early detection and prevention of colon cancer and how genetics can play a role in your risk factors.
Tuesday, March 22nd
Branch Museum for Architecture & Design
free parking. refreshments will be provided by mosaic.
Space is Limited. Call 804-320-DOCS (3267) to register.