Colon cancer claims over 50,000 victims each year. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related death, due in part to the fact that it is often diagnosed in its latest stages, when it is most fatal. March is an important month, as it highlights colon cancer and raises awareness for a disease that is silent, but deadly. Make sure that you make it a point march month to get tested for colon cancer, and take a loved one to get their tests done too. It could be the most important test of their lives.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer begins as a polyp, which is a growth that can start at the inner lining of the colon and grows towards the center. Many of these polyps are noncancerous, but certain types do evolve and become cancerous. It is important to get tested each year and remove these polyps as early as possible. Over 95% of colon and rectal cancers are adenocarcinomas which means they are cancers that start in gland cells, like the cells that line the inside of the colon and rectum.
Over 90% of colon cancer affects men and women age 50 and older, however it is important to do the yearly screenings regardless of age, as cancer is not age discriminatory. The good news is that the early colon cancer is detected, the better the chance of survival. Over 40% of all cases diagnosed in their earliest stages will reach the five-year survival mark.
Those with family history of colon cancer should get screened regularly, as they are two to three times more likely to develop colon cancer. Currently, there are over one million colon cancer survivors in the United States. One thing to remember is that colon cancer is highly treatable. Even if you are diagnosed with colon cancer, the most important thing to remember is that the earlier the better, as treatments are much more effective.
Tips for Prevention
Many people think being diagnosed with colon cancer cannot be prevented. They are wrong.
Here are some ways you can lower your chances of being diagnosed:
- Maintain a healthy weight throughout your lifetime. Be mindful not to become underweight.
- Be physically active and limit the time spent inactive.
- Eat at least 3 cups of vegetables and fruits per day
- Eat food that contains whole grains. Refined grain products aren’t as healthy.
- Limit the amount of red and processed meat.
- Limit the amount of alcohol. 1 drink per day for women, 2 for men is recommended.
- Do not use tobacco
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