March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This cancer is preventable if you as a couple take care of each other. Communication is very important in a relationship. Husbands and wives need to tell their spouse if they notice any of the risk factors for colon cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, let your spouse know so that you two can collectively make certain that you get your screenings.
What is Colorectal Cancer? Colorectal cancer commonly called colon cancer is cancer of the colon (large intestine or large bowel) or rectum. It may begin as noncancerous polyps, which are grape-like structures on the lining of the colon and rectum. These polyps may become cancerous.
What are the risk factors for Colorectal Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:
- Older age. The great majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Colon cancer can occur in younger people, but it occurs much less frequently.
- African-Americans. African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races.
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps. If you’ve already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, you have a greater risk of colon cancer in the future.
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk. Genetic syndromes passed through generations of your family can increase your risk of colon cancer. These syndromes include familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, which is also known as Lynch syndrome.
- Family history of colon cancer and colon polyps. You’re more likely to develop colon cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease. If more than one family member has colon cancer or rectal cancer, your risk is even greater. In some cases, this connection may not be hereditary or genetic. Instead, cancers within the same family may result from shared exposure to an environmental carcinogen or from diet or lifestyle factors.
- Low-fiber, high-fat diet. Colon cancer and rectal cancer may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories. Research in this area has had mixed results. Some studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in people who eat diets high in red meat.
- A sedentary lifestyle. If you’re inactive, you’re more likely to develop colon cancer. Getting regular physical activity may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes and insulin resistance may have an increased risk of colon cancer.
- Obesity. People who are obese have an increased risk of colon cancer and an increased risk of dying of colon cancer when compared with people considered normal weight.
- Smoking. People who smoke cigarettes may have an increased risk of colon cancer.
- Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol may increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers may increase the risk of colon cancer.
Sign and Symptoms
- A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.
Colon Cancer Prevention
- Fit activity into your day – Move at least 30 minutes a day.
- Stay a healthy weight and watch out for belly fat – Belly fat has been found to increase the risk of several different types of cancer.
- Eat plenty of fiber – Fiber will help you keep weight off and prevent colon cancer.
- Cut the red meat; avoid the processed – You do not have to be vegetarian but limit your red meat intake to once a week and avoid all process foods.
- Go moderate on the alcohol
- Enjoy plenty of garlic
Colon Cancer Screening
Colon cancer screening is very important in prevention. Everyone should receive colonoscopy at the age of 50. If you have a family history of colon cancer you should talk to your doctor about when you should begin receiving colonoscopy’s some doctors believe 10 years before your family member was diagnosed should be your first exam. As long as you have a clean colonoscopy you only need to have this exam every 10 years. When women reach the age of 40, their physicians will perform a fecal occult blood test at the time of their annual exam.
This information may save you from becoming a widow a lot earlier in life. As a couple, decide you are going to eat a high fiber diet and exercise together. Cancer affects the whole family but you and your spouse should be able to discuss any signs and symptoms that you are experiencing and do something about it immediately.
BMWK, Has anyone in your family dealt with Colon Cancer?