Colon cancer is on the rise in America. One in 20 of us will get a colon cancer diagnosis in our lifetime. And it’s the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States.
While the majority of people diagnosed with this devastating disease are over 50, it can strike folks far younger. And there are few obvious symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer.
Which means no matter your age you can’t afford to ignore your risk.
Colon cancer symptoms you should never ignore
Experts call colon cancer a “silent disease,” because in many cases there are often no symptoms at all. In other cases, the symptoms can be so subtle that many of them go unnoticed.
But if you know what to look out for you could end up catching this deadly disease early, improving your chances for a happy outcome.
When there are symptoms for colon cancer, they can include the following…
- Blood in your stool or in the toilet after a bowel movement
- A big change in your normal bowel habits.
- Stools that are more narrow than usual.
- Frequent gas pains.
- Bloating, cramps, full fulling, or general stomach discomfort.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Diarrhea, constipation or a feeling that you can’t empty your bowels fully.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Feeling tired all the time, unable to do things you once could without fatigue
If you find you have one or more of these symptoms take a deep breath. There’s no reason to panic. Something far less serious than cancer may be the cause.
But if you have any of them for more than two weeks, you should make an appointment to see your doctor right away. A checkup can alleviate your fears, and help you find the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Or if your doc does detect something you can start treatment right away, boosting your chances of beating the cancer.
Take the colon cancer risk quiz
Although any one of us could develop colon cancer, there are certain factors that can drive your risk for the disease higher.
To get an idea of your own risk take the following simple quiz.
Number a blank sheet of paper from one to eleven. Answer “yes” or “no” for each question below, and then add up your number of “yes” answers.
- Do you have a personal or family history of cancer? (yes or no)
- Do you have a personal or family history of colon or rectal polyps? (yes or no)
- Do you have a personal or family history of colon or rectal cancer? (yes or no)
- Do you have Crohn’s, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or ulcerative colitis? (yes or no)
- Do you eat mostly meat for your main meals? (yes or no)
- Do you smoke? (yes or no)
- Do you drink alcohol 7 or more times (or 7+ drinks) a week? (yes or no)
- Do you get less than 30 minutes of exercise a day? (yes or no)
- Are you 50 years old or older? (yes or no)
- Are you overweight or obese? (yes or no)
- Are you African American or of Eastern European Jewish descent? (yes or no)
If you answered yes to any one of these questions, especially if you’re over fifty, you could be at a higher risk for colon cancer.
Only a doctor can diagnose you with colon cancer, of course. But the more yes answers you have the higher your risk could be.
Prevent a colon cancer diagnosis in YOUR future
The good news is colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers there is. In fact, experts say up to 85 percent of colon cancer cases, and 60 percent of deaths, could be avoidable with regular screening.
And some simple lifestyle changes can reduce your risk even further.
If you smoke quit. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut back on, or eliminate, highly processed meats. And when grilling out avoid charring your food. (For more grilling tips to help reduce cancer risk, click here.)
If you’re overweight, work on losing some of that extra baggage. And commit to at least thirty minutes of cardio exercise a day.
Slash your colon cancer risk starting today!
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