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Steps To Take To Lower the Risk of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the most curable cancer when caught early. Approximately 90% of people with early-stage colon cancer survive for five years after their diagnosis. The survival rate drops to 10% in patients whose colon cancer has already spread. Early diagnosis of colon cancer is critical. Most cases of this cancer begin silently as a polyp with very few symptoms.

Here are five steps that can help protect you from colon cancer:

  • Screening – Getting regular screening tests is one of the best ways to protect yourself from colon cancer. Screening helps to catch the disease early when it’s most treatable. It also prevents the disease by helping to find polyps that can develop to cancer. The recent screening recommendations for colon cancer suggest that screening should begin at age 45 and earlier for those at higher risk, including those with a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, ovarian, breast, or endometrial cancer.  Your physician should be able to advise on the preferred screening method for your situation.
  • Beware of the risk factors – Knowing the risk factors can help you understand your risks and take the necessary steps to lower them. You can talk to a doctor if you are at high risk. The risk factors include:
  • When at age 50 or older
  • High-fat diet
  • Smoking
  • Having a family history of the disease
  • Having Type II diabetes
  • Ethnic background – African Americans have a high incidence of colorectal cancer.
  • Responding to symptoms – If you notice symptoms such as persistent stomach discomfort, abdominal pain that accompanies bowel movement, a change in bowel habits, weakness or fatigue, dark stool, blood in stool, and unexplained weight loss, then it’s time to see your doctor. The symptoms may vary, and it’s important to know that certain medications or food can trigger such symptoms.
  • Preventive measures – Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper lifestyle choices can lower your risk levels. A diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains offers the antioxidants and nutrients that help fight colorectal cancer. Limited consumption of red meat and low-fat dairy products lowers the intake of saturated fat. Sufficient vitamins and mineral intake help the body, and regular exercise builds the body’s defences. Limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking also helps to prevent colon cancer.
  • Knowing your options – The best way to manage your risk is by talking to your doctor about it. If you are at a higher risk, or your initial test revealed polyps, together with your doctor, you can decide the next course of action that will work best for you.

Making lifestyle changes can help to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and many other types of cancer. There’s a great link between diet, weight, exercise and the risk for colorectal cancer. Early and adequate screening and education also help to detect the disease and get rid of small precursor lesions that may develop into cancer.



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