The colon is the final part of the digestive tract and colon cancer begins in the large intestine. It typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age. It usually begins as small, benign clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers. If colon cancer occurs, there are many treatments available to control it, including surgery, radiation therapy, and drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include a persistent change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of stool, unexplained weight loss, fatigue or weakness, persistent abdominal discomfort such as feeling gastric, having cramps, or slight pain, and rectal bleeding.
Valuable tips to prevent colon cancer
The good thing about colon cancer is it can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and routine check-ups. Getting regular screening tests for colon cancer is the best way to protect yourself from the disease. These tests help prevent the disease by finding abnormal growths called polyps that can turn into cancer. With the advancement of medical science, screening tests have become more effective for colon cancer treatment. Some tests are simple and need to be done more frequently while the complex ones need to be done less often.
One should start screening at the age of fifty while people with a family history of colon cancer or other important risk factors may begin testing even younger and get tested more often. Your doctor will advise you about the benefits of different screening tests and which are best suited for you. If anything suspicious is found in the test results, a follow-up colonoscopy is required.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)/Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) are done every year and they look for hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of cancer. The tests are quick and easy. A stool sample taken at home is sent to a lab for testing.
Colonoscopy is done every ten years. A flexible tube fitted with a camera at the end is used to examine the full length of the inside of the colon. The patient is sedated for the test, and if the exam finds polyps or other suspicious growths, they can be removed during the test.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a test similar to a colonoscopy done every five years. A small flexible tube is used to examine the lower part of the colon (the sigmoid).
Virtual Colonoscopy is also done every five years. It is a type of CT scan that creates a precise 3-D image of the inside of the colon. During the test, a small tube is inserted into the rectum to gently inflate the colon with air. It takes just a few minutes for the scan.
Being overweight raises the risk of colon cancer so maintaining a healthy weight is the key to preventing this type of cancer. Ask your dietician about a healthy diet plan to achieve your goal of losing weight by reducing the number of calories you eat.
Making changes to your lifestyle can go a long way in preventing the risk of colon cancer. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, as they are considered good for cancer prevention. Alcohol intake should be in moderation and quitting smoking will certainly work for you. Exercise at least five days a week to keep in shape and consult your doctor for an exercise regime to be followed. Limit the intake of red meat and get enough calcium and Vitamin D to lower the risk of colon cancer.