Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer types in the United States for both men and women. Approximately 149,500 adults in the United States would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year. It includes over 104,000 new cases of colon cancer and around 45,000 new cases of rectal cancer.
Although the incidence rates drop by 1% every year from 2013 to 2017, it is only for older adults. The most alarming fact is the increase in diagnosis from 2012 to 2016 by 2% for people under 50 years of age.
Prevention is better than cure and like most diseases, there are ways on how you can prevent colorectal cancer. It all starts with knowing the signs and symptoms of the disease. Here are some of the colorectal cancer signs and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer may not appear during the early stages. If it happened, you’re very lucky because it would help you treat the diseases without undergoing serious medication.
However, the symptoms appearing in the early stages are not very common and they usually appear when the cancer is already in the advanced stages. Here are the most common symptoms that you might experience if you have colorectal cancer:
- Change in bowel habit
- Blood in the stool
- Bleeding on your rectum
- Abnormally narrow stools
- Incomplete bowel movement
- Unexplained weight loss
The normal symptoms like fatigue, nausea, weakness, etc. may not imply that you have colorectal cancer. You need to experience them along with other main symptoms such as blood in the stool.
If the cancer is already in the advanced stages and it has already spread to the other parts of your body, other symptoms will surely arise. Although the amount of blood in your stool is negligible, it may cause anemia if you don’t deal with it as soon as possible. Sometimes, the symptoms would start when the red blood cells in your body start to diminish.
Eventually, cancer will start spreading in other areas including your liver. It may cause swelling and yellowing of your eyes or skin.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
The term “Colorectal” came from Colon and rectal because cancer usually starts on these two. It is a type of cancer that develops in the rectum or colon. The colon is the large intestine, while the rectum is the passageway that connects the anus to the colon. Cancer usually starts between these two.
Polyps usually form in the rectum or colon. Although they usually start as benign, they might turn into cancer later on. Screening tests are done to find polyps and they can be removed immediately before they turn into cancer. Through screening, you can also find out if you already have colon cancer during its early stages as it is the best time to treat it.
Who Is at Risk of Getting Colon Cancer?
Men and women are both at risk for colon cancer. It means that gender is not a factor. This type of cancer is common for people aged 50 and above, but there are instances where it occurs in teenagers. You should also know that more than 75% of the people who suffered from colorectal cancer don’t have any risk factors. This is the reason why you need to have regular checkups to check your overall health.
Although anyone can suffer from this type of cancer, there a few people who are more at risk:
If you have a first-degree relative like parents, child, or siblings with colorectal cancer, you have a higher risk of having this disease. A relative that is diagnosed with this type of cancer who is still under 50 can also increase your risk of having colon cancer. According to research, 20% of colon cancer patients have close relatives who also had the same disease.
Personal Medical History
If you have a personal or family history of having certain types of polyps, you have a higher chance of having colon cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis can also increase your risk. Research suggests that Asians, African Americans, and people of Hispanic descent are usually diagnosed at a later stage.
Other Risk Factors
Aside from hereditary and medical history, there are other risk factors that can increase your chance of developing this type of cancer:
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco smoking
- High consumption of red and processed meats
- Low consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Consuming two to four alcoholic drinks per day
How To Lower Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer
- Regular Screening
One of the best ways to lower your risk for colon cancer is to undergo screenings on a regular basis. By doing this, you can detect if polyps are starting to develop in your body. You can even catch cancer during its early stages, allowing you to treat it completely. Having a regular PSA Blood Panel is a great addition to your yearly health plan.
- Eat Fruits, Vegetables, and Whole Grains
Your diet plays a vital role in reducing your risk for colon cancer. By keeping your body healthy, you can also prevent polyps from developing.
- Regular Exercise
Physical inactivity is definitely a huge factor when it comes to the development of colon cancer. It’s the reason why you should perform regular exercises. You don’t need to go to the gym. You can simply jog or walk around your neighborhood just to keep your body moving.
- Control your Weight
You should always watch your diet and eat healthy foods. Obese individuals have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
- Avoid alcohol and Cigarette
Smokers and alcohol drinkers having the highest chance of having colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer is almost impossible to treat once it reaches the final stages. Like other types of cancer, it is very deadly. However, treating it during the early stages is doable and you’ll have a high chance of survival. It’s better to keep yourself healthy and eat a lot of healthy foods if you have relatives who also suffered from colon cancer.