Ways To Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer doesnt get the same attention as some higher-profile cancers, but it should. Its the third most common cancer in the United States with around 150,000 people diagnosed each year. And a growing number of these cancers are being found in younger adults under the age of 50.
But theres another important fact about colon cancer: It can be prevented. Seventy-five percent of all cases could be avoided by things you can do.
Use these eight tips as a guide to lowering your risk. Start with one or two and build from there.
Its your health. Take control.
Chemicals In The Environment
Scientists are also examining factors in the environment as potential causes of early-onset colorectal cancer. Such factors include things like air and water pollution, chemicals in soil and food, and pesticide use.
The National Toxicology Program, led by NIEHS, has identified 18 chemicals that cause cancer in the intestines of mice or rats, said NIEHS Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., who also heads the National Toxicology Program. Some of these chemicals might damage DNA, potentially leading to harmful mutations in cells of the colon and rectum.
Other chemicals may have more indirect effects, pointed out Barbara Cohn, Ph.D., M.P.H. of the Public Health Institute. For example, mixtures of certain environmental chemicals can disrupt the bodys metabolism, leading to obesity, she said. Even though some of those chemicals are now banned, their use in earlier decades could have effects later in life for people who were born back then, Dr. Cohn explained.
In addition, some environmental chemicals may have harmful effects on the complex assortment of bacteria in the gut, Dr. Woychik noted.
People are exposed to many chemicals at the same time, some of which may interact in different ways, he added. So, its important to consider all of an individuals environmental exposures over the course of their life, including exposures in the womb, said Dr. Woychik. How those chemicals interact with a persons genetic and epigenetic characteristics is also important, he added.
Know Your Chances For Colon Cancer
Colon cancer may have claimed the lives of millions of Americans to date, but it doesnt have to determine your fate. Despite the rising prevalence of the disease, it is largely preventableand even beatable, with early diagnosis and treatment.
That is why experts push harder to spread awareness of colon cancer, and encourage people to start getting routine screenings at age 45. The information provided below aims to help you get a better understanding of colon cancer by learning about its risk factors.
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Cancer of any type, such as colon cancer, in teens is rare. Therefore, the diagnosis can be devastating for the parents. Besides medical treatment, cancer requires utmost emotional support for comprehensive healing. Here is an infographic that provides you with some tips on how you may help children who battle cancer.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Polyps are generally asymptomatic, which means you are unlikely to know you have them. That is why colonoscopies are essential. So, be sure to stick with your recommended screening schedule.
When polyps produce symptoms, they may include:
- Bleeding from the rectum
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Federal Recommendations For Screening
In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated their colon cancer screening guidelines, which recommend routine screening beginning at age 45 for average-risk adults. Previously, the recommendation was for people ages 50 and older.
Speak to your healthcare provider about when you should begin screening and how often.
Causes Of Bowel Cancer
The exact cause of bowel cancer is not known, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk, including:
- age almost 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer are aged 60 or over
- diet a diet high in red or processed meats and low in fibre can increase your risk
- weight bowel cancer is more common in overweight or obese people
- exercise being inactive increases your risk of getting bowel cancer
- alcohol drinking alcohol might increase your risk of getting bowel cancer
- smoking smoking may increase your chances of getting bowel cancer
- family history having a close relative who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50 puts you at a greater lifetime risk of developing the condition screening is offered to people in this situation, and you should discuss this with a GP
Although there are some risks you cannot change, such as your age or family history, there are several ways you can lower your chances of developing the condition.
Find out more about:
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Diagnosing Colon Cancer In Teenagers
The doctor may order a few tests and procedures to confirm or exclude the cancer diagnosis. The tests may include the following .
- Colonoscopy and biopsy: It consists of the visualization of the colon with a device and the collection of samples from suspected areas. These samples are sent to the laboratory for analysis.
- Blood tests: It is often performed to assess the general health and the functions of the liver and kidneys. A blood test can often be useful to analyze the presence and level of carcinoembryonic antigen that is sometimes seen in colon cancer. The level of CEA can help decide treatment and prognosis.
After the confirmation of the colon cancer, your doctor may also order imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI scan, or PET scan to determine the extent of the colon cancer.
Pelvic, abdominal, and chest imaging is usually done to identify the spread and metastasis before the staging of cancer. However, the doctor may order other tests based on coexisting signs and symptoms, if any.
How Family History Can Affect Colon Cancer Risk
Studies show that people who have at least one first-degree relative a parent, sibling or child who has had colon cancer have an elevated risk of developing the condition themselves. The risk increases if the relative was diagnosed at age 45 or younger or if more than one first-degree relative was diagnosed.
The exact role that family history plays in colon cancer risk is not yet well understood. Scientists believe that colon cancer may run in families due to inherited gene mutations, shared environmental factors or a combination of both.
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How You Can Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Colon and rectal cancer are common together, theyre the third most common cancer in the United States and the second-leading cause of cancer death. About 1 in 24 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
These cancers are serious but are also highly preventable, says colorectal surgeon Jeremy Lipman, MD. Because the two cancers are related, theyre sometimes referred to together as colorectal cancer.
Like most cancers, the most important thing you can do to lower your risk is stop smoking, says Dr. Lipman. This can be difficult, but your healthcare provider has tools available to help you. So, if youre a smoker, get help and stop. Today.Diet also plays an important role in colorectal cancer risk. Eating a lot of red meat like beef increases your risk. And having more than one alcoholic drink per day can increase your chances .
On the other hand, you could reduce your risk by eating a lot of fiber, as well as fruits and vegetables, Dr. Lipman adds. Your mom was right they really are good for you.
If youre overweight or dont engage in enough physical activity each day, your likelihood of getting cancer is much higher than if you are active. If you can do 20 minutes of medium-level exercise daily, you can reduce your risk as much as 25% to 50%. A brisk walk, a slow bike ride or gardening all count.
Previous Treatment For Certain Cancers
Some studies have found that men who survive testicular cancer seem to have a higher rate of colorectal cancer and some other cancers. This might be because of the treatments they have received, such as radiation therapy.
Several studies have suggested that men who had radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer might have a higher risk of rectal cancer because the rectum receives some radiation during treatment. Most of these studies are based on men treated in the 1980s and 1990s, when radiation treatments were less precise than they are today. The effect of more modern radiation methods on rectal cancer risk is not clear, but research continues to be done in this area.
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How Often To Screen
For people without any polyps or family history, colonoscopies are typically recommended every 10 years.
However, suppose your doctor finds polyps during a screening. In that case, your healthcare provider may suggest you receive a follow-up colonoscopy earlier than that, depending on your risk factors and the type of polyps removed.
If your doctor finds no polyps, but you have first-degree relatives who had advanced polyps, your next colonoscopy would typically be five years later.
What Are The Risk Factors For Colorectal Cancer
Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older, but getting regular physical activity and keeping a healthy weight may help lower your risk.
Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. Other risk factors include having
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis.
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
- Lack of regular physical activity.
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats.
- Tobacco use.
When Leah was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, her 19-year-old son, Asaad, put his life on hold to take care of her. They share their story in this video.
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How Does A Poor Diet Increase Your Chances Of Contracting Colon Cancer
Some of you might be wondering exactly how a poor diet increases your chances of contracting colon cancer. Obviously foods that are rich in fats arent good for you, but why does such delicious food have to make you more susceptible to such a horrible disease?
Studies have shown that when mice were fed a diet consisting of foods that were high in fats, they exhibited aggressive cell growth of stem-like cells that encourage mutation. This aggressive cell growth is typically coupled with the development of cancerous tumors along the intestine.
The unfortunate mice who were tested offer us invaluable insights into the factors that affect ones chances of developing colon cancer. Their sacrifice, while trivial compared to the totality of scientific inquiry, is significant and it can save lives, human lives.
How Colon Cancer Is Diagnosed And Treated
As with most cancers, the sooner colorectal cancer is diagnosed, the more likely that treatment will be effective. With a colonoscopy or similar screening, patients can have cancerous tumors detected early and removed, as well as polyps that have the potential to turn into cancer. Polyps are small tissue growths commonly found arising from inner lining of the colon.
Colorectal cancer treatment options vary among patients based on tumor type and location, as well as on a patients overall health and lifestyle. Typically, we recommend a combination of surgery , chemotherapy, and radiation depending on each individual case.
Boseman’s premature death is tragic, and one we hope will become increasingly less common over the next five to 10 years. It is important to be aware of potential risks factors and symptoms to detect colon cancer at an early stage.
Please see a doctor at the first sign of symptoms preferably sooner if you have a family history of the disease. Acting quickly can potentially save your life.
To schedule a colorectal cancer screening, call orrequest an appointment online.
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What You Should Know About Colorectal Cancer If You Are Under 50
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women inthe United States. It’s on the rise among people under 50. Learn moreabout how to spot the signs and reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.
You may think you dont have to worry about colorectal cancer until youre 50. Thats the age doctors recommend most patients get a colorectal cancer screening.
Heres what you should know about colorectal cancer if youre younger than 50.
More than one-third of colorectal cancers diagnosed in patients under age 35 are hereditary
Most cancer cases, including colorectal cancer, arent related to family history. But colorectal cancer in patients under 35 is more likely to be genetic. In other words, its more likely to be passed down from a family member, says Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention at MD Anderson.
Find out if any of your relatives have had cancer and how old they were when they were diagnosed. Ask them about other cancer types as well as colorectal cancer. In some cases, other types of cancer, including uterine, stomach, ovarian, prostate and liver, can be clues to a family history of colorectal cancer.
About 5% of colorectal cancer cases are related to hereditary syndromes, like Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis . Patients with Lynch syndrome have a 50 to 80% chance of getting the disease. Patients with FAP have a 100% chance of getting colorectal cancer.
What Is Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer, sometimes called colon cancer, starts when cells that line your colon or rectum grow out of control. Itâs the third leading cause of cancer deaths among American men and women.
In the U.S., about 72% of colorectal cancer cases start in the colon and 28% in the rectum.
The colon is also called the large intestine, which is part of your digestive system. It absorbs water and nutrients from food after it moves through your stomach and small intestine. Solid waste is stored in your colon before moving to the rectum. This 8-inch tube holds the waste until it leaves your body through the .
Most colorectal cancers are “silent” tumors. They grow slowly, and you may not notice any symptoms until theyâre large. But you can take some steps to prevent colorectal cancer, and you can cure it if you find it early. Itâs important to have regular screening exams to spot cancer or precancerous areas, especially if you have a high risk of getting it.
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Should Young People Get Colonoscopies
Even though colorectal cancer is rising in young people, the incidence is still too low to justify routine colonoscopies for them. Once a screening test is developed for a disease, it’s important to make sure that the number of screenings performed will prevent enough cancers to justify the costs of and risks associated with the tests.
A colonoscopy is performed with the patient under conscious sedation. The doctor inserts a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end through the rectum to examine the colon. The tube also allows a doctor to remove any polyps that may be precancerous, heading off many cancers before they develop. For that reason, colonoscopy is considered to be one of the biggest reasons for the overall decrease in colorectal cancer.
Even before the most recent screening recommendation updates, experts have been recommending for several years that Black men and women start colorectal screening at age 45, since they are at higher risk. If you have a family history of the cancer, your doctor may recommend colonoscopy screening at 40 or 10 years before the age when your family member was diagnosed. Adults ages 76 to 85 should ask their doctor if they should be screened. Dr. Reddy prescribes colonoscopies for people of all ages who have symptoms such as rectal bleeding that they cant diagnose with a different problem.
If youre not satisfied that your doctor has properly evaluated your symptoms, its smart to get a second opinion or even a third.
How Common Is Colorectal Cancer
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. The American Cancer Societys estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2022 are:
- 106,180 new cases of colon cancer
- 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer
The rate of people being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer each year has dropped overall since the mid-1980s, mainly because more people are getting screened and changing their lifestyle-related risk factors. From 2013 to 2017, incidence rates dropped by about 1% each year. But this downward trend is mostly in older adults and masks rising incidence among younger adults since at least the mid-1990s. From 2012 through 2016, it increased every year by 2% in people younger than 50 and 1% in people 50 to 64.
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Informing Approaches For Prevention And Treatment
Defining the causes and risk factors for early-onset colorectal cancer will likely help inform approaches for prevention, screening, and treatment, Daschner said.
For instance, health care professionals could recommend lifestyle changes or more frequent screening tests to people who, because of their exposures, are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer at a young age.
A few medical organizations have lowered the recommended age to start colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45. For those younger than 45, tailoring colorectal cancer screening approaches to each person based on their risk factors may improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of screening, said Dr. Lee.
Homing in on the causes and risk factors will also help scientists uncover the underlying biology of early-onset colorectal cancer. More specifically, it can help scientists pinpoint specific molecules that drive the growth of colorectal cancer in young people. Which, in turn, could hatch new ideas for colorectal cancer screening and treatment.
For example, some screening tests check for specific molecules made by colorectal cancer or polyps . Knowing which molecules are key to the growth of early-onset tumors could help researchers design screening or diagnostic tests that are tailored for younger adults. It could also help them develop treatments that target those key molecules .