Colon cancer is the third most common types of cancer in males and fourth in females in the United States. It is a malignant tumor on the large intestine’s inner wall. Most colorectal cancers start as polyps then develop later on. Regular screening is important since early cancer and colon polyps usually have no symptoms.
Experts believe that certain risk factors predispose people to colorectal cancer. These include high fat diet, family history of the disease, having large intestine polyps, primary chronic ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Age is also a risk factor since by the age 50, about 25% of people have large intestine polyps. Some researchers have found that high alcohol intake can increase colorectal cancer risk.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Typically, colon cancer doesn’t present noticeable symptoms until the latter stages. This is the reason it is important to undergo screening regularly especially once you reach your 50s. However, some symptoms may indicate colon cancer. These symptoms include abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower part of the abdomen, bloody stools, considerable changes in bowel habits, sudden weight loss for no reason and narrow stools.
Exams and Tests
With proper regular screening, colon cancer can be detected even before you experience any symptoms. This is the time when the disease is most curable. A physical and rectal exam may help in diagnosing colon cancer. The best ways to screen and potentially diagnose colon cancer are through colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. Take note that only colonoscopy can give an image of the entire colon so this is the best type of screening test for the deadly disease.
The best treatment for colon cancer depends on the particular stage of the disease the patient is in. When the cancer has not yet spread to distant sites, the primary treatment is usually surgery. The type of surgery depends on the areas the cancer has spread to. In many cases, additional chemotherapy may be necessary to completely get rid of the cancer cells.
Lifestyle changes can reduce risk of colon cancer. Try to consume a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals which may help in preventing cancer. Controlling alcohol intake can also help prevent the fatal disease. Two drinks a day should be the maximum alcohol intake. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can also help prevent colorectal cancer.
The Best Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention
Since high intake of unhealthy or saturated fat has been proven to increase colon cancer risk, it is best to minimize intake of this kind of fat. Experts also suggest eating a diet high in organic food especially fruits and vegetables. Some studies indicate that fiber which is abundant in these foods can help prevent colon cancer.