Warning signs of a common, deadly cancer

Warning signs of a common, deadly cancer

Do you know the most common cancers diagnosed for men and women? The answers might surprise you.

Excluding skin cancers, ranking in the top three for both men and women are lung and colorectal cancer.

And when it comes to the leading causes of cancer-related deaths, colorectal cancer ranks third for both men and women.

In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates this year, along with over 97,000 new cases of colon cancer, over 43,000 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed, and more than 50,000 people will die as a result.

Overall, a man’s lifetime risk of developing this deadly form of cancer is approximately 1 in 22. For a woman, her risk drops to 1 in 24.

But the disease is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer because it typically starts as a slow-growing lesion in the colon called a polyp, which can be easily detected by screening tools such as a colonoscopy.

So what do you need to know to protect yourself?

“There are two very important things that should be understood about colorectal cancer,” says Dr. Jeffrey Brasky, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “The first is colon cancer can be a silent disease. What this means is when symptoms present, this may actually be an indication of a more advanced stage of the cancer. This is why getting a colon cancer screening beginning at the age of 50 for the those who are not predisposed is so important.”

The second important point: patients under the age of 50 need to be aware of colon cancer symptoms so they can visit their primary doctor or gastroenterologist for medical evaluation if they think something is wrong, says Dr. Brasky.

Those symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • A change in stool caliber
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Low blood count

Want to reduce your risk?

Dr. Brasky offers these tips:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit red meat, eat whole grain foods instead of refined grain foods and limit sugar intake
  • Ensure you are taking part in moderate exercise three to four times a week
  • Find out about your family history, specifically relating to colon cancer and colon polyps
  • Talk to your doctor about colon cancer screenings and get the appropriate screening test for you, dependent on your age and risk factors.

Take our colorectal health assessment to determine your estimated lifetime risk or schedule your colonoscopy today.

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  1. Thanks! Good to know.

  2. Pomai, You are welcome! I dropped my AARP membership and card because they did nothing to help SENIOR citizens except sell them insurance policies (I still get all the same discounts with AAA and my credit cards). They did NOTHING to protect social security trust fund as such only thing left in lock box according to President George W. Bush is worthless paper IOUs. Congress and Presidents have been borrowing our retirement monies we put into the system via payroll tax for years to pay for wars and balancing the fiscal budget. Social security will be paying out more than it is taking in starting in year 2035. That is why people are starting to call social security an entitlement. Now they are looking to tap into Medicare trust fund which is also part of social security meaning there goes your future low cost healthcare! Speaking of healthcare, once you turn 65 you need to sign up for Medicare but now that you are 50 your general practice doctor will want you to have a colonoscopy done and every 10 years thereafter. The only reason you are put under is because if they find something they”ll need to cut it out. I was pretty sure I was clean so I asked not to be put under and laid on the table watching the whole proceedings and travels through my body on the Big color TV screen. FASCINATING!

About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacquelien Hughes is the manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the co-managing editor of Advocate health enews. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.