March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and many people often ask themselves the question, “How do I know if I have colon cancer?”
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of deaths in men and women. Over 136,000 were diagnosed last year, and around 50,000 of these cases were fatal.
Some people think that symptoms don’t appear in the early stages of the disease. While partly true, there are symptoms to keep on the lookout for, but like with any diagnosis, prevention is the best method when it comes to colon cancer. Men and women over 50 are at high risk for this disease, and should undergo testing to find out if they have colon cancer. Granted, there are cases in which patients should get tested earlier and more frequently, especially if there is a family history of colon cancer. Over 72% of these cases can arise in the colon itself, while 28% develop in the rectum.
Make sure you make an appointment for regular colonoscopies. It is a simple procedure, that while may be uncomfortable for a few minutes can have a positive impact in diagnosing the disease at its earliest stages when it is most treatable. The survival rate for patients diagnosed with colon cancer is high thanks to innovations in modern medicine. 90% of patients survive when colon cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages. One of the main reasons for such a high survival rate is the growing awareness that surrounds this disease.
So what are some of the signs?
Bathroom issues – If you struggle with digestive problems, you may be at risk for colon cancer. Some people may be embarrassed, but there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to asking for help and running tests to make sure that everything is alright. In many cases, it may not be cancerous, but treatments can be given to resolve any issues a person may have when using the facilities.
What to lookout for: Chronic diarrhea, gas, or constipation, or a combination of all three. Many patients also experienced a received a prior diagnosis of colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, or another bowel condition before testing positively for colon cancer.
Weakness and fatigue – If you feel tired or weak, and notice that physical activity is taking more of a toll on you, it may be time to consult a physician. Some people also complain of dizziness when they exert themselves.
What to lookout for: Pale coloring of the skin, feeling cold easily and changes in the color of stool. Blood that may appear in your stool will often be dark purple or black.
Weight loss and poor appetite – Unexplained weight loss that can’t be explained by diet and exercise may be a cause for concern. If you are starting to feel like eating less, or feel full more than usual it may be time to see a doctor.
What to be on the lookout for: Changes in diet and appetite that last more than a week.
If you feel any of above Symptoms and Signs of canon cancer so don’t ignore it, Make an appointment with your Cancer specialist near you.