As with all cancers, catching the disease early in its development is all-important in preventing a polyp or tumor from becoming cancerous. Right now finding colon cancer before it becomes malignant has never been easier. Let’s find out some details about that, as well as 7 ways you can lower your risk of colon cancer.
Screening For Colon Cancer
Screening for colon cancer can be performed with a simple at-home test. If you don’t have any serious risk factors, ask Digestive Health Service to prescribe an at-home test. You simply take a small sample of your stool and send it to a lab for testing. This is called a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). This test should be done each year unless and until anything abnormal is noted.
Other screening tests include the following:
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is given every 5 years. This is similar to a colonoscopy, but it examines the lower part of the colon. It requires no sedation.
- Virtual colonoscopy is given every 5 years, and it is a CT scan that creates a 3D image of your colon. It only takes a few minutes.
- Colonoscopy is the most well-known test, and it is recommended every 10 years. Here, a flexible tube with a camera at the end examines the entire colon. Sedation is needed, and if suspicious polyps are found, they are removed during the test.
Even if you have relatively low risk factors, you should begin having screening tests at 45, or even earlier if you have a high risk.
Quit completely or cut back on smoking. Smoking is the major cause of at least 14 different cancers including colon cancer. Visit smokefree.gov or talk to Digestive Health Service.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Your risk for colon cancer greatly increases if you are overweight or obese. Start the process by finding a way to stop gaining the weight, then work on reducing the pounds.
Drink Alcohol In Moderation Or Not At All
Alcohol is linked to a higher risk of developing colon and rectal cancer. Moderation means one drink per day for women, and two drinks for men.
Get More Exercise
Yes, you hear this all the time because it is effective at keeping you healthy and free from disease. Talk with Digestive Health Service about a regular exercise regimen for your age.
Limit Red And Processed Meat
Limit beef, lamb, steak, hamburger, and pork, and this includes processed meats like luncheon meats, bacon, and sausage. Instead, focus on eating colorful fruits and vegetables along with whole grains.
Increase Vitamin D And Calcium
Both calcium and Vitamin D have shown to protect the colon. Get 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day, and 1000 IU per day of Vitamin D.
A final note, most colon cancers are found in those with no family history, so don’t think you are safe. Maintain regular screenings as recommended by your physician.
Don’t delay to contact Digestive Health Services if it’s time to get your colon cancer screening or if you missed your last one. Call (630) 434-9312 to schedule a visit at our office in Downers Grove, IL.