March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, a National month of bringing awareness to the seriousness of Colon Cancer and the actions we can take towards prevention.
Here are five facts that you should know about Colon Cancer.
Colon Cancer Risk Increases with Age
As you age, your risk of colon cancer increases. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older. Age 50 is when regular screenings should begin and they should continue through age 75.
Colon Cancer Symptoms Don’t Appear at First
You could have polyps and colorectal cancer without even knowing it. This is because there are no immediate symptoms. Symptoms usually occur long after the polyps or cancer have already developed. This is why screening is so important.
There Is More Than One Screening
There are three different types of colon cancer screenings.
- High-Sensitivity Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) – a test is taken at home to check for hidden blood in your stool.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – a screening designed to check for polyps or cancer in the rectum and lower third portion of your colon.
- Colonoscopy – similar to the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy except the doctor uses a longer tube to check for polyps inside the rectum and the entire colon.
Find out more about these tests in our article on Colon Cancer Screenings.
There are Risk Factors
You may be at a higher risk if any of the following factors apply to you:
- You have a history of precancerous colon polyps or colon cancer in your family
- You have a history of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- You are a smoker
- Your alcohol intake is excessive
- You have a sedentary lifestyle
- You are overweight or obese
- You have Type 2 diabetes
Ways You Can Help Prevent Colon Cancer
There are some lifestyle changes you can make or habits you can develop to prevent colon cancer.
- Remain active through exercise.
- Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle by breaking up long periods of sitting with walks or other activities.
- Maintain a healthy diet and avoid eating processed foods, foods with preservatives, sugars, foods high in salt, and red meat.
- Watch your weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Get screened.
For more about colon cancer prevention, check out our article, Colon Cancer Prevention 101.
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