Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon and intestines. It's the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
But colorectal cancer is 90% preventable and 90% curable if detected early.
How is colon cancer detected?
Colorectal cancer screenings include a stool screening to check for the presence of blood and a colonoscopy, which uses a camera to examine the lining of the colon and rectum to check for the presence of polyps.
Polyps are a growth in the mucosal tissue of the intestine, and while most are benign (non-cancerous), some can become malignant (cancerous).
If polyps are discovered during screening, they are removed to prevent cancer from forming.
Who should get a colorectal cancer screening?
Age is the primary risk factor for developing colon cancer, so anyone over the age of 50 should have an annual colorectal cancer screening. People who have other risk factors should talk to their physicians about when to begin regular screenings, usually around age 35.
Rick factors for colorectal cancer include:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
- Family history of colon cancer
- History of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis
Free or Reduced-Cost Colorectal Cancer Screening
If you don't have medical insurance, or your medical insurance doesn't adequately cover colorectal cancer screenings, you may be eligible for a free or reduced cost screening at Southeastern Med.
Colorectal Cancer Prevention
The most common form of colorectal cancer prevention is the removal of polyps during the colonoscopy screening. You can also adopt a diet high in fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables to keep your digestive system clean and healthy.
Another way to prevent colon cancer is to lower the risk factors you can control, such as your weight, your activity level, and your tobacco and alcohol use.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer
- Changes in your bowel habits: going more or less often, changes to your stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Persistent stomach cramping, gas or bloating
Colorectal Cancer Treatment Options
There are several options for treating colon cancer. If cancer is detected during a screening, your physician will before additional test to determine if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body before deciding on a course of treatment.
The treatment options for colon cancer are similar to those for other types of cancer.
- Surgical removal of the affected tissue
- Radiation treatment
- Targeted drug therapy
Depending on the stage of your cancer, your physician may combine surgery and radiation or chemotherapy and radiation to reduce the chances of a recurrence.
Colorectal cancer screening is the best was to detect and prevent colon cancer, so it's important to follow your physician's recommendations for regular screenings. Call 740-435-2400 to make an appointment for a colorectal cancer screening today.
The Tina Kiser Colorectal Cancer Coalition has been changing lives through screening and education since 2008.