How Do I Know If I Have Colon Cancer? Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Posted By Author on March 14, 2022

In recognition of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Charleston GI is shining the light on a disease that claims far too many lives right here in our community. While our gastroenterologists focus year-round on preventing colorectal cancer, we would like to take this opportunity to answer a few commonly asked questions.

national colon cancer awareness month colorectal cancer awareness blue illustration banner

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer impacts the large intestine and is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women. Colorectal cancer is a broader term, including cancers of the colon and rectum. Despite a major push for prevention through routine screenings, there are still over 101,000 new cases of colon cancer every year in the U.S.

Why Was Blue Chosen to Represent Colon Cancer Awareness?

A blue star symbol was chosen by the Roundtable in 2004 to represent the fight against colorectal cancer. It was chosen in memory of the lives lost, with the star shining in hope of a colorectal cancer-free future.

What Does The Pain of Colon Cancer Feel Like?

In many cases, colon cancer patients do not feel any pain at all during the disease’s early stages. Some may experience a dull belly ache that progresses over time to a more persistent pain or chronic cramping. The severity and location of the discomfort varies, and because symptoms can also point to other common GI issues, it is important to visit your gastroenterologist.

Common Symptoms of Colon Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)

While you may not experience any symptoms in early stages, these symptoms may arise at colon cancer progresses to later stages:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding/blood in the stool
  • Inability to empty bowels
  • Chronic abdominal pain/cramping
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic fatigue

Common Factors That Increase Your Chances of Colon Cancer

These risk factors may boost your chances of developing colon cancer:

  • Family history: If a member of your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you face an increased risk of developing it as well.
  • Advanced age: While colorectal cancer is becoming increasingly common in younger Americans, the disease is most prevalent in people over 50.
  • African-American race: African-Americans face a greater risk than people of other races.
  • Diet low in fiber and high in fat: This type of diet is common today, and some studies link it to colorectal cancer.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of regular exercise may also raise your risk of colon cancer.
  • Obesity: Overweight people have a higher risk of dying from colon cancer than those who maintain a healthy weight.
  • Smoking: Smoking not only damages your lungs but increases your risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Heavy drinkers are more likely to develop colon cancer.
  • Diabetes: Those with diabetes or insulin resistance face a greater risk.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer: If you have already had colorectal cancer or your gastroenterologist has found noncancerous polyps, your risk is elevated.
  • Radiation cancer therapies: Radiation therapy targeting the abdomen puts you at a higher risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Inherited conditions: Some gene mutations have been shown to increase cancer risk, although these cases are rare.

Ways To Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer

These lifestyle changes can help decrease your risk of colon cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy diet: Incorporate a wide variety of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your everyday diet.
  • Drink in moderation: Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day for women and two a day for men.
  • Quit smoking: This will not only decrease your cancer risk but provide many additional health benefits.
  • Exercise: About 30 minutes of physical activity, most days of the week, is recommended.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: The combination of a nutritious diet and regular exercise is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.

Can My Colon Cancer Be Cured? Visit A Gastroenterologist Near Me For Diagnosis.

Colon cancer is one of the most treatable and curable forms of cancer when caught early. So many can be protected from this cancer, which why colon cancer awareness so vital. Surgery is the recommended treatment for about half of patients, making it the most common route to remission. Because recurrence is a major concern, our gastroenterologists will continue to monitor you regularly.

Screenings save lives, so schedule your colonoscopy today! With three endoscopy centers to choose from, Charleston GI has made getting your colon cancer screening more convenient than ever. Plus, there is no referral needed!

When Should I Be Screened For Colon Cancer?

If you are 45 years old or older, schedule your colon cancer screening today! If you have any risk factors of colon cancer, talk to your gastroenterologist to find out when to get a colonoscopy.

To learn more colon cancer awareness and colonoscopies, visit us or schedule an appointment at Charleston GI today!

Offering 4 convenient locations throughout the Lowcountry in Summerville, Carnes Crossroads, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley we are ready to help! Our team of highly-qualified specialists are committed to providing a higher standard of caring – and relief from digestive symptoms today!

No referral needed!

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