How to prevent colon cancer with regular screenings
Learning how to prevent colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, is essential. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, yet it is preventable. A colonoscopy is the standard screening procedure for adults who are 50 years or older, says Reid Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Jeevan Sekhar.
Regular screening prevents colon cancer
Because colon cancer is slow-growing, it takes on average 10 to 15 years for polyps, or small growths in the colon, to develop into colon cancer, says the American Cancer Society. With regular colonoscopies and/or other screening procedures, any problematic polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer. If cancer has developed, it can be detected early, when it is still easy to cure.
The American Cancer Society notes that, in the early and precancer stages, colorectal cancer has no symptoms. Screenings are the best way to ensure that it is caught before it spreads. While colonoscopy is a common screening option, there are some others. Talk with your doctor and decide together which tests are the most appropriate for you. Everyone should have a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, but if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors, you should consider screening sooner. Several of these risk factors are avoidable, and if you want to know how to prevent colon cancer, making the following lifestyle changes would be a good start:
- Eat a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber.
- Increase your physical activity.
- Lower or limit your alcohol consumption.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
- Avoid tobacco.
Take the worry out of colonoscopy prep
Many people worry about the colonoscopy test because it involves preparations that can be unpleasant, or also possibly worry about anesthesia. Preparation includes drinking a liquid that clears your bowels so that your colon is empty for the procedure. It sounds unpleasant, but, as Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide says, “it’s worth the hassle.” They offer some great tips for prep, including dialing back your diet to clear liquids the day before and keeping a variety of appealing clear liquids on hand, like soft drinks and ice pops.
A colon cancer fact sheet put out by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that if everyone over 49 had their regular recommended screenings, colorectal cancer deaths would decrease by 60 percent. Prevent colon cancer and schedule your colonoscopy today.
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