Debunking the Most Common Myths About Colon Cancer

Mar 27 • 2015

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women, and it is also one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. In many cases, this kind of cancer can be prevented. We have debunked some of the most common myths about this kind of cancer so you can feel confident knowing the facts.

Colon cancer cannot be prevented.
The truth is, colon cancer is a very preventable disease. Most often, it begins with a small polyp. If this is found early enough, doctors can easily remove it before it becomes cancerous. There are a variety of tests that can find polyps, so speak with your doctor about which option is best for you. You can also minimize your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, opting for whole grains, limiting your intake of red meat, drinking only in moderation, and avoiding tobacco.

Age doesn’t matter.
In reality, almost 90% of all colon cancers are found in people over the age of 50. People who are at a higher risk of colon cancer may want to begin screening for the disease when they are younger; otherwise, the recommended age to begin testing is 50 years old.

Men are the only ones who get colon cancer.
Actually, colorectal cancer is just as common in women as it is in men.

I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need to be tested.
This is a common misconception. More than half of people who are diagnosed with colon cancer do not experience any symptoms beforehand. While things like a change in stool, rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal pain are certainly symptoms of colon cancer, it could be a sign that the disease is more advanced.

A colonoscopy is the only way to test for cancer and it is unpleasant, uncomfortable, and hard to prepare for.
There are actually a variety of ways to screen for colon cancer. You’ll want to speak with your doctor for personalized testing recommendations. Preparing for a colonoscopy requires cleaning your colon with medicines. Typically you will consume a liquid the day or two before the procedure. During the actual procedure, patients are sedated in order to eliminate any discomfort. It is only 15-30 minutes long and your doctor can provide you with more information about when you can return to daily activities.

If you have questions about your risk for colon cancer, when to begin screening, and how testing works, speak with your doctor today.