Colon cancer is fierce.
It’s the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States, and the second-leading cause in men, according to the American Cancer Society. One out of every 21 men and one out of every 23 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, but the death rate has been dropping for several decades thanks to screenings and education.
It’s essential that men and women are educated about the signs of colon cancer so they can go to the doctor and be treated immediately, though regular screenings are essential to zap the cancer before it spreads.
Signs of colon cancer include feeling that you need to have a bowel movement but are not relieved by having the bowel movement, according to the ACS. Rectal bleeding and blood in the stool are also signs, as are cramping or abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue, unintended weight loss and a change in bowel habits that could include diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days.
While these symptoms could mean any number of things, you should see a doctor to rule out colon cancer. Often, the symptoms appear after the cancer has spread, the ACS says, which is why the regular screenings are essential, as you could have colon cancer without any symptoms.
The ACS recommends regular colon cancer screening for people starting at age 50, unless you have a family history of colon cancer or if you have other risk factors that would lead the doctor to recommend you start the screenings earlier.
If colon cancer is found before it spread, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent.
Written by Danielle Braff. Photo by 123RF.