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The month of March is dedicated as the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. It has grown to become a focal discussion for the colon cancer community, where thousands of survivors, patients and caregivers come and join together to spread awareness about colon cancer.
Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States which affects both the men and women with 93,090 new cases noted in 2015. Colon cancer is the third most leading cause of cancer in men and the second most leading cause of cancer in women.
So, what is colon cancer? It first starts in the innermost layer and can expand through all of the tissue layers that make up the colon and rectum.
Throwing a light on this issue, we will talk about the important facts on colon cancer. Read on.
1. People Are Not Aware Of The Signs
When a person is detected with colon cancer at an early stage, the survival rate becomes high. But surprisingly, it takes 10-15 years for the new polyps and abnormal cells to develop into colon cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests that regular colon cancer screenings begin at the age of 50 and those who have a family history of cancer should consult a doctor first.
2. Colon Cancer Rates Are Higher
According to the American Cancer Society, half of all premature colon cancer deaths are linked to disparities in race, geography and education. Research says that people who are from racial minorities have shown a higher incidence of death in colon cancer. For certain populations, the outcomes are worst.
3. Your Doctor May Miss The Signs
Even if you identify the symptoms and signs of colon cancer, there is a risk that you will be misdiagnosed. According to a 2014 study, 1 in 20 American adults are affected by a misdiagnosis. Research shows that different kinds of diagnostic methods sometimes have different results and the doctor can misread the test results. So, it's always better to take a second opinion.
4. Type 2 Diabetes Can Increase Your Risk
If a person suffers with inflammatory bowel movement or type 2 diabetes, he/she is at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Do you know why? It's because inflammatory bowel movement includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, these are the two conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the colon.
5. Age Is The Biggest Risk Factor
Did you know 90 percent of colon cancer cases occur in men and women above the age of 50 years or older? And this developing risk of colon cancer comes with age. However, there are younger people too who have been diagnosed with colon cancer at an early age.
6. Lifestyle Choices Increase The Risk Of Colon Cancer
Many lifestyle choices that you make in your day-to-day lives could increase the risk of colon cancer. Smoking increases the risk of developing and dying from colon cancer by 14 percent and obesity is also another factor that increases the risk of colon cancer by 30 percent.
Other factors are drinking excessive alcohol, lack of exercise and consuming too much of red and processed meat that could increase your colon cancer risk.
7. Family History Matters
People with a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or an offspring) who has colon cancer have two to three times more risk of developing this type of a deadly disease. A family history of polyps also puts you at a higher risk, if the polyps are large or there are too many of them.
8. There Are No Early Warning Signs
Just like cervical cancer and lung cancer, it's hard to detect colon cancer at an early stage. Symptoms like change in bowel habits, diarrhoea, blood in the stool, constipation, frequent gas pain, cramps, weight loss, bloating, etc., are some that you shouldn't ignore.
9. There Are Different Screening Options
There are different kinds of screening tests like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy and at-home tests like fecal immune testing or stool gene testing that can detect colon cancer. Speak to your doctor and ask what screening is appropriate for you, given your lifestyle choices, age and family history.
10. Colon Cancer Is Preventable With Regular Screenings
Regular screenings can save the lives of many and can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing the polyps before they transform into cancer. Screenings also help in detecting colon cancer at an early stage, when the treatment is most effective.
Also, you can start eating healthy foods that can decrease the risk of colon cancer.
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