Every year, over 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer, which forms in the part of your large intestine called the colon. Most people don’t have any noticeable signs or symptoms of the disease until it progresses, when it can cause:
- Changes in your bowel movements (e.g., diarrhea, constipation, different stool consistency)
- Blood in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Feeling like you can’t empty your bowels
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained fatigue or weakness
At the Rivas Digestive Center, board-certified gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, is dedicated to helping men and women in Hollywood, Florida, reduce their risk of developing this deadly disease with colon cancer screenings. But is colon cancer preventable? Keep reading to learn what you need to know about colon cancer and its prevention.
Am I at risk of getting colon cancer?
While anyone can develop colon cancer, certain risk factors increase your chances of being diagnosed with this disease. The best way to understand your risk is by discussing your family and medical history with Dr. Rivas so he can schedule any early-detection tests, such as a colonoscopy or stool test.
Generally speaking, your risk of colon cancer increases with the following factors:
- Age: 95% of colon cancer cases occur in patients over age 45
- Diet: Eating red and processed meats and not enough high-fiber, plant-based foods
- Being sedentary: Not exercising and leading a mostly sedentary lifestyle
- Tobacco: Smoking and using other tobacco products
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases your risk
- Family history/genetics: Having certain inherited syndromes or close family members who have had colon cancer
- Race: Being Black or an Ashkenazi Jew
- History of digestive health issues: Polyps, other colorectal cancers, and inflammatory bowel diseases
- Poor overall health: Being overweight, having type 2 diabetes, having had other cancers
Understanding the risk factors and making lifestyle changes when possible along with getting colon cancer screenings lowers your risk of getting colon cancer.
Is colon cancer preventable?
Yes! Although colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America for both men and women, the good news is there is a powerful tool that helps prevent cancer from developing: colon cancer screenings.
Colon cancer is slow-growing and begins as noncancerous polyps in the colon. Over time, the cells begin to grow abnormally, and cancer forms. Colon cancer screenings catch growths while in the polyp stage, enabling Dr. Rivas to remove the polyps before they can grow into cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, everyone should get a colon cancer screening beginning at 45. Some patients should have earlier screenings based on their medical and family history. The results of your screening and your risk factors help determine the frequency of future screenings.
Get started on the path to colon cancer prevention by contacting Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, and setting up your colon cancer screening today. Schedule an appointment by calling 954-228-5882 or book online now.