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Are You at Risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of this disease. Like many other forms of cancer, this type can be quite successfully fought and won, but the key is detecting it early and acting quickly to stop the disease in its tracks. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 100,000 new cases of this disease are diagnosed annually.

It’s important for people to understand their risks for developing colon cancer so they can take steps to avoid the disease’s development. It’s also important to undergo routine screenings if risk is present and to know what the potential warning signs are.

The Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors that indicate a person might be more likely to develop colon cancer. They include such things as age, history of colon cancer, family history, diet, diabetes, obesity, smoking, heavy use of alcohol, inherited syndromes, and inflammatory intestinal conditions, among others.

Screenings for colon cancer generally begin around the age of 50, but can be recommended sooner if the risk factors are high.

Symptoms to Know

Colon cancer tends to present with very few symptoms in its earlier stages. Even so, there are some signs that can indicate its presence. They include such things as blood in the stool, persistent abdominal cramping, gas, and changes in bowel habits.

What to Do

If you are at high risk for colon cancer or suspect there is a problem, schedule an appointment with your physician for a routine screening. This may involve a colonoscopy to give doctors the ability to see if cancerous growths are present. Should cancer be detected, surgical procedures to remove the polyps or tumors may be indicated. This is generally followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy to ensure that all cancer cells are eradicated.

Colon cancer is a common disease, but it is one that can be beaten. The key is knowing your risk factors and making sure routine screenings become a part of your routine. Your family physician can help put you on the path for ensuring proper screenings take place regularly.

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