If you have attended your mammogram appointments, well done. It’s great that you’re aware of your breast cancer risk and are taking positive action to detect any abnormalities. Early treatment is the best treatment!
Of course, that’s true of colorectal cancer too—but are you as conscientious when it comes to scheduling your colonoscopies?
Perhaps you’re more laid back about colon cancer. After all, people don’t get colon cancer until they’re older, right? Even then, it’s usually diagnosed in men.
Sadly, that’s no longer true. Colorectal cancer is on the rise in the under-55 age group, and it’s actually more common in women than men in that age group as well. It’s the third highest cause of cancer death, and a recent study revealed that colorectal cancer rates are up 62 percent among white females under 49 years of age.
Be Aware of Your Risk
All women are at some risk of colon cancer at age 50, and recent statistics have prompted the American Cancer Society to reduce the recommended age for first-time colon cancer screenings to 45.
However, there are certain factors that increase this risk.
If you have Lynch syndrome (a cancer that’s the result of an inherited genetic flaw), you’re at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer before the age of 50. You’re also at higher risk if a relative has been diagnosed with colon cancer or advanced polyps.
Be Aware of Your Symptoms
You may not be excited to think about your bowel habits, and you’re probably even less excited to talk about them. Nevertheless, if your bowel habits change or cause you concern, it’s vital that you visit your doctor immediately. Don’t let embarrassment delay that appointment or prevent you from getting an appointment at all—a few minutes of embarrassment could save your life.
The symptoms to look out for are:
- A change in bowel habits (increased constipation, diarrhea, or narrow, ‘ribbon-like’ stools)
- Feeling as though you need to have a bowel movement, yet being unable to do so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools or blood in your stool
- Cramping or abdominal (tummy) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
But the most common symptom experienced by older Americans? No symptom at all. This is why it’s essential to get screened; a lack of symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not at risk.
For women aged 45 or older, getting screened is the key to prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, and the best prognosis.
If you are experiencing symptoms or need to schedule your screening colonoscopy, contact the expert gastroenterology team at Digestive Health Centers at Call 214-646-3459 or fill out an appointment request form and a team member will contact you soon. At Digestive Health Centers, every GI physician is fellowship-trained in gastroenterology, the medical staff is highly specialized in endoscopic procedures, and you will receive the highest quality of care in a comfortable, private setting for a fraction of what hospitals charge for the same outpatient procedure. Get scheduled to get screened today—save your life!