Colon Cancer is known as the second leading cancer killer in the United States and affects both men and women. Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer is preventable and, if detected early, curable.
Risk Factors apply if any one of the following is true:
- Age 50 or older.
- Have a parent, brother or sister or child diagnosed with colon cancer or been known to have colon polyps.
- Have had chronic inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
- Colonoscopy. A lighted probe is inserted into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and for anything else that looks wrong.
- Digital Rectal Exam. A doctor inserts a lubricated gloved finger (digit) into the rectum to feel for abnormal areas. Only detects tumors large enough to be felt. Not as good as colonoscopy.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test. Tests blood in the stool. Better test than Digital Rectal Exam, but not as good as the colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy is, by far, the most reliable test for colon cancer. The test can be expensive, and most insurance companies will only cover a portion of the cost. Keep in mind, that if need to reduce costs, negotiate with your physician and/or colonoscopy center. Many physicians and centers will discount cost by as much as 50% (sometimes more) if you offer to pay cash, and not use insurance. Shop for best price in colonoscopy. And don’t be afraid to be assertive. Rarely do we pay list price for a car, why pay list price for a colonoscopy.
If a polyp is found during a colonoscopy it is usually easy to be removed at the same time. Basically a polyp is a lesion.
Factors that can reduce or lower your risk for developing colon cancer:
- Beginning at age 50, get a colonoscopy on a regular basis as set forth by your physician. I.e., if polyps are found, then test more frequently.
- Exercise and maintain normal body weight.
- Avoid foods high in fat.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
Prevention. Screening is the best prevention, however good lifestyle and nutrition has also contributed to reduced risk of colon cancer.
- Active lifestyle is better than sedentary lifestyle.
- Lower caloric intake better than high caloric intake.
- Reduced diet of red or processed meat will reduce risk.
- Adding Vitamin D can help prevent colon cancer.