Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, affecting both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, due to its slow progression, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
Colorectal cancer (or colon cancer) develops in both men and women from benign (non-cancerous) polyps growth. These are clumps of cells that usually form in the lining of the rectum and colon.
It is important to note that African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in its advanced stages.
Colon Cancer Can’t Be Prevented
This form of cancer can be prevented with regular screening tests. You can remove the polyps to prevent them from turning into cancer.
Screening Tests Are Only Advised For Those With Symptoms
Colon cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages, so this statement is, of course, incorrect. Moreover, screening tests are preventive measures that one should undergo, irrespective of any signs or symptoms.
Colon Cancer Is Fatal
Colon cancer is fatal when diagnosed in the advanced stages when there’s nothing much that can be done. But it’s treatable and curable if detected early on.
Only Families With A History Of Colon Cancer Are At Risk
Again, that’s not always the case. 75% of colorectal cancer cases are individuals with no family history or risk factors.
Screening Tests Are Not Covered By Insurance
Most health insurance plans cover screening tests for colorectal cancer.
Colonoscopy Is A Risky Procedure
Colonoscopy is a low-risk procedure conducted under sedation, so the patient will not feel any pain during the test. It is relatively safe and painless.
Symptoms To Watch For
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women and often presents no symptoms in its early stages, making regular screening crucial for early detection. However, as colorectal cancer progresses, there are specific symptoms to look out for. Some of the most common symptoms of colon cancer include:
This can range from bright red blood in the toilet bowl to darker blood mixed in with the stool.
Unexplained abdominal pain:
This can include pain in the lower part of the abdomen or the back.
Constipation or change in bowel habits:
This can include persistent constipation, diarrhea, and changes in the consistency or frequency of bowel movements.
Unexplained weight loss:
Unexplainable weight loss can indicate colon cancer or other health problems.
Feeling tired and run down can be a symptom of many conditions, including colon cancer.
This can cause fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can be due to other conditions, including non-cancerous ailments like hemorrhoids or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, you must consult your healthcare provider and schedule a screening to ensure safety and prompt treatment if necessary.
What Is A Colonoscopy?
Screening for colorectal cancer is also more accessible than many people think. Most health insurance plans cover screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, which is a safe and relatively painless procedure. During a colonoscopy, a flexible instrument with a camera is inserted through the anus to examine the colon, which is done under sedation and is considered low-risk.
Colorectal cancer can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these methods. Robotic colorectal surgery, using the da Vinci system, is also an option for treatment. Minimally-invasive endoscopic, laparoscopic, open, and robotic surgery are all available to treat colorectal cancer.
Importance Of Screening And Prevention
Screening for colon cancer is recommended starting at age 45 and is usually done through a colonoscopy, a procedure in which a flexible instrument with a camera is inserted into the colon for examination. Other screening options include fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs), stool DNA tests, and flexible sigmoidoscopies.
While age isn’t really a factor when it comes to colon cancer, doctors usually advise individuals to consider screening tests post-45. But people with risk factors like diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammatory diseases, or a family history of colon cancer should get tested sooner.
In conclusion, colorectal cancer is a serious but preventable and treatable disease with early detection. Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, are covered by most insurance plans and are relatively safe and painless procedures.
If you experience any symptoms of colorectal cancer, please consult your physician immediately. After all, prevention is better than cure!