Colon Cancer

Colorectal Cancer (Colon Cancer)

Did you know that Colorectal Cancer, also known as colon cancer, is equally as common in men as it is in women? In turn, it is estimated that over 140,500 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year (2010). Around 1/3, roughly 50,000, of those people will die from the disease.

Did you know that colorectal cancer is preventable and when detected early, can be very treatable? The truth is that colorectal cancer, when detected early, is one of the most treatable forms of cancer there is.

So you might be asking, “Why is it then that 1/3 of the people diagnosed in 2010 will die from the disease?” This is simply because they did not take the proper steps to get checked for the disease.

With that being said, let’s talk about some risk factors, ways to reduce risk, and early detection options that are available.

There are various risk factors that can contribute to getting colorectal cancer. Here are some of the most common:

  • If you are a man or women at the age of 50 and older (unless you have a family history, in which you might be at risk earlier than that)
  • People who use tobacco, are obese or are sedentary
  • People with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps
  • People with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as long standing ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • People with a family history of inherited colorectal cancer
    Now that you have seen the risk factors, there are also ways to reduce your risk. Even with a family history, you can help yourself out by abiding by these risk reducers:
  • Be physically active and exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains.
  • Consume calcium-rich foods like low-fat or skim milk.
  • Limit red meat consumption and avoid processed meats.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Don’t drink alcohol excessively.
    Although these are not guarantees of not getting the disease, they can greatly reduce your chances.
    So what do you do to ensure yourself that you do not have colorectal cancer? You simply need to be tested. There are different types of tests that can detect a problem with the colon. Here are a few:
  • Colonoscopy – Is a procedure when the doctor will use an instrument called the colonoscope. It is a long (about 3 feet), thin (about 1 inch), flexible fiber optic camera that allows the doctor to visualize your entire colon.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy – Is a procedure that uses an imaging technique called computerized tomography that takes a picture the abdominal organs and produces them into hundreds of cross-sectional images to see if there are abnormalities detected.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test – This procedure is when the patient places a small stool sample on a chemically treated card or slide. A special chemical solution is then put on top of the slide to determine if there is blood in the stool (a common sign of colorectal cancer).

Remember, colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable. Please make sure that you start getting regularly checked at the age of 50. In the cases where you have a family history of the disease, talk with your physician because it might be wise for you to start getting checked earlier.

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