Colon Cancer Screening: Knowing the Symptoms & Early Detection

pain-after-surgery-square“According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is around 1 in 20 (source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273587.php).”

Scary, right?

If that doesn’t cause some alarm, this might…

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the United States, and it occurs most often in people over the age of 50 (source:
http://www.cancercare.org/publications/116-colorectal_cancer_the_importance_of_screening_and_early_detection).”

With that being said, after 50 years of age, regular colonoscopies are an effective way to monitor the health of your colon and to screen against colon cancer.

But how can you monitor the health of your colon in between colon cancer screening appointments? One of the most important things you can do is to learn about the symptoms, and that’s precisely what we’re going to discuss in this article.


Symptoms of colon cancer

pain2-squareYou may or may not know already that colon cancer is also referred to as: colorectal cancer or bowel cancer. It is a cancer that forms in the rectum or in the colon, and there are many signs to look out for.

Symptoms include:

  • rectal bleeding
  • dark stools
  • blood in stools
  • changes in bowel habits that last more than a few days (i.e. diarrhea, constipation, a difference in the stool’s consistency)
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • abdominal pain
  • cramping
  • vomiting
  • unintended weight loss

If you notice these symptoms, take note as to how long they last for. Do they last for a day? Four days? Two weeks?

If you have persistent symptoms that won’t go away, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

An important note—colorectal cancer can develop without the presence of any symptoms (or very few symptoms). That’s why, even if you don’t have symptoms, you should always schedule routine screenings to make sure everything is okay.


We recommend early detection to save lives

Routine screenings can help prevent colon cancer…plain and simple.

Why? How?

gastro-squareWell, during a routine screening (a colonoscopy is the best and most popular screening test available), if our doctors find a precancerous polyp (not cancerous), he will remove the polyp, thereby preventing cancer. The polyp will not spread or develop into cancer since it will be removed during the routine screening.

So we, along with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, “recommend men and women should have regular screenings for the disease from the age of 50 until the age of 75.”

However, if you are at a higher risk for colon cancer, screenings should start occurring at the age of 40 (or approximately 10 years prior to the age that a family member was diagnosed—whichever is earlier).


Well, how do you know if you’re at a higher risk for colon cancer?

The following factors can increase the chance of developing colorectal cancer:

  • age
  • race (It is said that African American men and women are at a higher risk.)
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • lifestyle (heavy alcohol consumption, eating a lot of red meat and processed meat, smoking tobacco products, not exercising, and being overweight/obese)
  • Jews of eastern European descent
  • family history

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not to schedule a screening, or have been putting it off for a while, just remember this shocking statistic:

“Colon cancer is up to 90% treatable when caught early, which means finding it through recommended screening before there are symptoms (source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273587.php).”


Get your colon cancer screening today.

If you are 50 years old (or approaching 50 years old) and haven’t scheduled a colon cancer screening, call us today.

Regardless of whether or not you noticed changes in your GI tract, have experienced abdominal pains, or if you’re ready to take charge of your health, call for your appointment.

Just remember: early detection is surely a key to fighting and beating colon cancer. Our gastroenterologists offer complete colon cancer screening services at GastroCare LI in Valley Stream, NY and Glendale, NY.

sources:
https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/colorectal-cancer-screening