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Can You Have Colon Cancer without Any Symptoms?

Colon cancer is the world’s third most common type of cancer, and fourth when it comes to the causes of cancer-associated deaths. The complex disease is linked to both lifestyle and genetic factors.

To reduce death and suffering, oncologists conduct tests to prevent colon cancer or spot it at its earliest stages.

Can You Have Colon Cancer without Any Symptoms?

The short answer is yes. Most colon cancers result from small lesions within the colon, known as polyps. You won’t feel anything unless the polyps enlarge and bleed. 

You’ll only experience visible changes when the cancer is at an advanced stage. Colon cancer symptoms include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, unexpected weight loss, blood in the stool, change in bowel movements, and anemia.

Thus, to prevent colon cancer, you need to go for early screening to help catch the disease before it advances.

Preventing Colon Cancer

Prevention is only possible through colonoscopy – a procedure for identifying precancerous polyps and removing them before they become cancerous.

Colonoscopy remains to be the only procedure for colon cancer prevention and treatment. Most gastroenterological and cancer societies across the world recommend this procedure.

The endoscopist’s team places a tiny camera at the tip of a long, flexible tube and uses it to observe your rectum and colon inside. The procedure helps the team to locate and remove any benign polyps. The process is painless, as you’re sedated beforehand.

Alternatives to Colonoscopy

However, not all patients are comfortable with colonoscopy. The other screening methods for colon cancer include:

  • Stool-based tests – These easy and inexpensive at-home tests are used for detecting hidden blood in the stool. The sample undergoes a laboratory analysis, and if there’s anything abnormal, a healthcare provider will conduct further investigation. 
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – The procedure entails using a shorter tube mounted with a small camera to check the colon’s lower end and the rectum for cancerous polyps. If an abnormality or polyp is found, then a colonoscopy may be necessary.
  • Computed tomographic colonography – This method entails using a special machine to take pictures of the rectum and colon. Some patients prefer this method because it doesn’t involve sedation. If a polyp is detected, you may need to undergo colonoscopy.

Reducing the Risk of Colorectal Cancer

The recommended measures for lowering the risk of colon cancer include:

  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low on red meat
  • Exercise often
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit drinking
  • Get screened

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