Taking any steps towards colon cancer prevention is always wise, but many overlook the possibility of colon cancer symptoms. Do you know if you should be screened for colon cancer?
Are You at Risk For Colon Cancer?
If you are at least 50 years old, according to the American Cancer Society, you are should receive routine colon cancer screenings. If you have a family history of gastrointestinal disease or colorectal cancer, it is recommended to begin screening earlier than age 50. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, schedule your colon cancer screening immediately.
Are You Experiencing Colon Cancer Symptoms?
- Diarrhea, although commonly traced to less serious causes, may be a sign of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis if it lasts for more than a few days.
- Constipation that continues after a few days may indicate blockage in the colon.
- Narrow stools also signal colon blockage. If your bowel movements do not regulate after 3 days, you should consult with your doctor.
- Feeling the need to defecate, but the feeling is not alleviated by going to the bathroom, may signify colon obstruction.
- Rectal bleeding may suggest hemorrhoids, and is cause enough for a visit to the doctor.
- Blood in the stool or dark “tarry” stools are also warning signs.
- Prolonged abdominal pain or cramps should be monitored. If pain is more severe than a stomachache, please consult with your physician.
- Weakness and fatigue in addition to any of these symptoms is also an indicator.
- Losing weight unintentionally as a result of prolonged diarrhea, food aversion from constipation or painful bowel movements, or unknown causes may suggest gastrointestinal disease or colorectal cancer.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of colon cancer, it does not necessarily mean that you have Colon cancer. Colon cancer is often asymptomatic. The only way to manage and prevent gastrointestinal disease and colorectal cancer is through screening and a correct medical diagnosis.
How is Colon Cancer Screened?
There are a few ways that colorectal cancer is screened. Depending on your symptoms and health care needs, a physician may conduct a stool test and/or a sigmoidoscopy, or a colonoscopy.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy examines the lower section of the large intestine (colon) using a small, pliable tube with a miniature camera at the end. Tiny tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken if necessary and sent to a laboratory for microscopic examination.
A colonoscopy examines the entire large intestine to discover possible causes for symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea or constipation, abdominal cramping and pain, rectal bleeding and more. Biopsies or polyps are removed and sent to a laboratory for microscopic examination.
Should You Screen for Colon Cancer?
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer are dependent on the size and location of the cancer. Usually, symptoms of colon cancer occur after it has advanced, so identifying colon cancer early before you experience any symptoms is the best the best way to prevent colon cancer. Make sure to get screened before symptoms occur.
Whether you are experiencing symptoms or not, a colonoscopy could save your life and the life of your loved ones. Prevent colon cancer today, request an appointment with Digestive Health Centers.