This March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the United States there are more than 200,000 cases each year. This cancer appears in both men and women and is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer with a third of cases leading to death. Colorectal cancer is majorly preventable, and can be easily detected by getting a colonoscopy. Learn more about what colorectal cancer is, the signs and symptoms, how a colonoscopy is a life saving solution.
Because this cancer appears equally in both sexes, it is suggested that everyone get a colonoscopy every 10 years after the age of 50.
However, if your family has a history of colon cancer, it is recommended that you begin getting colonoscopies before the age of 50, and to receive them once every five years. This is also recommended if polyps are found. Polyps are a small clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon or rectum. Most polyps are harmless and they do not often have symptoms. However, some can develop into cancer. Screenings can help identify polyps and determine if they need to be removed.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, unusual weight loss and a substantial change in bowel movements. Most symptoms do not appear until you are in the late stages of the disease.
At this stage, treatment and curing the disease can prove to be more difficult. The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age and correlates with family history. The prime years in which colon cancer develops is between the ages of 50 and 80. Obesity, the use of alcohol, and smoking can also be potential risks. However, most cases are random and spontaneous. This factor alone emphasizes how important it is to get screened through colonoscopies.
Receiving a Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine, or rectum and colon. This is done by using a thin and flexible tube called a colonoscope.
A small video camera is attached to the colonoscope so that the doctor can take pictures and/or video of the large intestine. To prep for a colonoscopy you must clean out your colon which takes 1 to 2 days before the test. This usually entails a clear liquid diet, as well as drinking a special solution. There are additional screening test for colon cancer including sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, and computed tomographic colonography. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what test is best for you.
So what can you do to fight this disease? Get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Do not consume too much alcohol and refrain from smoking. Neighbors Emergency Center supports your start to a healthier lifestyle. NEC has just opened two new centers in Harlingen, Texas and Amarillo, Texas. Check our Facebook page to learn more about our new emergency centers. With our 24 hour emergency rooms throughout the Houston metro area, we can treat you quickly and effectively so you can get back to doing what you love.