The Colon Cancer Information Everyone Should Know

Mar 21 • 2017

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and men? In fact, one in 22 men and one in 24 women will be diagnosed with this during their lifetime. Despite how frequently this type of cancer occurs, there are still many misconceptions around it. Baptist oncologist Dr. Aleksandar Jankov highlights the facts everyone should know in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

What are the most common symptoms of colon cancer?

There are several symptoms of colon cancer that many people tend to have. These include:

  • Change in bowel habits (thin stools, constipation, straining and abdominal cramps when having a bowel movement)
  • Blood in stool; bright red or a dark, tarry looking stool
  • Iron deficiency anemia

Are there any symptoms people may overlook?

Fatigue and nausea are very common symptoms that could be related to colon cancer, but are often missed by patients or attributed to something else.

How is colon cancer diagnosed and treated?

Colon cancer is diagnosed by performing a colonoscopy. This is an exam of the large bowel with a thin, lighted tube. A biopsy of the polyp or cancer mass is taken during this time to be tested.

What kind of lifestyle changes should people make now to reduce their risk of colon cancer?

Healthy diet and exercise are the most important measures that one can undertake to prevent colon cancer. A high fiber diet, rich in vegetables and avoidance of animal protein, especially red meat, can help lower the risk. Diabetes and obesity, as well as a lack of physical activity, all reduce the risk for colon cancer.

One factor that is not modifiable is age. Colon cancer incidence raises with age and reaches its peak at age 80. That is why a colonoscopy is so important as a screening tool.

If you’re over the age of 50 and haven’t been getting screened for colon cancer, now is the time to start. Speak with your doctor today to learn more about what steps you can take to lower your risk.