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Protect Yourself Against Colorectal Cancer
Treatment for virtually all diseases and conditions is most effective if begun early. This is especially true in the case of colorectal cancer. Treatment for this cancer is very successful in the early stages of the disease, which is often difficult in the case of colorectal cancer which usually has few if any symptoms in its early stages.
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine. At the preventable stage, it consists of small polyps. or small clumps of cells, which form in the lining of the intestine. At the early stage, they are benign, and easily removable. Removal prevents the polyps from growing and becoming cancerous. Early removal also preserves normal bodily functioning.
Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the developed world.
Although colorectal cancer affects both sexes, as well as all ages and ethnicity's, there are some who are more susceptible. These include those who are obese, inactive, eat a low fiber, high-fat diet, those over fifty years of age, and those of African-American ancestry. Those are also at risk who drink excessively, those who smoke, and those with a history of polyps. There is also a genetic factor involved in colorectal cancer.
The earliest discernible signs of colorectal cancer include constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, weight loss, fatigue, and a feeling of having a constantly full bowel.
If any of these signs are present, or if you have any concerns about your personal risk for colorectal cancer, consult your family physician immediately.
There are several screening tests for colorectal cancer. Your physician will decide which is best for your circumstances. These tests include the following.
1. Colonoscopy. During the colonoscoy, a small flexible lighted tube can view the entire length of the rectum and colon. Any small polyps can be removed at this time. The colonoscopy is the most thorough screening method for colorectal cancer.
2. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. This procedure uses a flexible lighted tube which also looks for pre-cancerous growths in the colon and rectum. This test, however, only views the lower third of the colon.
3. Barium Enema. This is an X-ray of the colon and rectum. A contrast material containing barium fills the colon, which makes the intestine more visible on the X-ray. This test is not used to detect colorectal cancer as frequently as it was in the past.
4. Fecal Occult Blood Test. This test detects hidden blood in the stool. Any blood in the stool may have a variety of causes, including benign, pre-cancerous polyps as well as a variety of other diseases. The test is easy for the patient to preform at home and is usually recommended on an annual basis.
There are other tests which your doctor may advise and will discuss with you.
There are a variety of things that you can do to help prevent colorectal cancer. These include eating a low-fat, high fiber diet, getting regular exercise on a daily basis, reducing your alcohol intake, and stopping smoking. Also, have regular medical check-ups, follow your doctor's advice, and get tested.
A short period of embarrassment may save your life.