A cancer diagnosis is scary, but when caught early, many cancers are treatable and the survival rate is much higher. Colon cancer caught early in the localized stage has an excellent survival rate. Once cancer has spread, the survival rate decreases, so it's best to know symptoms and follow screening recommendations to get an early diagnosis. Doing so increases your odds of finding localized cancer.
Risk Factors For Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is often hereditary. Having a family member who has had this cancer increases a person's risk. You should also know the other risk factors include obesity, age, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.
Staying active and making some important lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
Symptoms Of Colon Cancer
One key to an early colon cancer diagnosis is to watch for symptoms. Don't ignore some of the most common signs of this type of cancer.
- Blood in stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Constipation/trouble passing stool
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in stool
It's important to tell your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can help determine if your symptoms are a sign of cancer or something less serious.
Screening Recommendations Of Colon Cancer
Doctors recommend colonoscopies for anyone having signs and symptoms of colon cancer. Colonoscopies are also recommended for those age 45 and over as regular screening for colon cancer.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a flexible, slender tube with a camera attached to view the entire rectum and colon. This is one of the most accurate ways to find colon polyps and early cancer.
For patients with no family history of colon cancer, at-home test kits are an option. Fecal immunochemical, FIT, tests detect blood in stool using antibodies. Studies show FIT tests are about 80 percent accurate in detecting colon cancer.
You and your doctor can decide if a FIT test is a good choice for you based on your health history. It's important to understand not all insurance companies cover the FIT test, so this is also something to consider before requesting one.
The advantages of FIT tests are the convenience of testing at home and not having to empty the bowels before testing, like with a colonoscopy.
Cancer is scary, but the odds of surviving any type of cancer are early detection and treatment. Colon cancer is no exception, so report any symptoms to your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can decide the best course of action based on your health. Contact a local medical professional to learn more about colon cancer screening.