Warning signs of a common, dangerous cancer

Warning signs of a common, dangerous cancer

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

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

In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that this year, more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and 40,000 new 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 23 and 1 in 24 for women.

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?

“The first thing to understand is that colon cancer is a preventable disease,” says Dr. Molly Meyers, colon and rectal surgeon at Aurora Health Care. “A colonoscopy is the best way to detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps that have the potential to turn into cancer.  If removed, this can prevent colon or rectal cancer.”

The second important point: starting at age 45, all patients should undergo colonoscopy screenings.

“If you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer or polyps, you may require colonoscopies at an earlier age to detect and prevent cancer,” says Dr. Meyers.

Additionally, pay attention to potential warning signs for colon cancer.

Those symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • A change in stool caliber
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia or low blood counts

Want to reduce your risk?

Dr. Meyers offers these tips:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption
  • 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.

Learn your risk for colorectal cancer by taking our colorectal health assessment. Learn more information about colorectal cancer screenings in Illinois or Wisconsin

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  1. My husband barely hovers over the toilet before his bowels are whooshing out, this has always been his normal. His father and Aunt was the same way. My husband refuses to get a colonoscopy because he would never make it to the bathroom due to the colonoscopy prep. Is there another solution?

  2. It’s NOT that BAD! Most times now, the drink is not terrible, and you can alternate with lime & lemon jello, ginger ale, etc….

  3. Lisa, Your husband will be home when he does the prep. If necessary he can sit on the toilet while he drinks the stuff if he has to. When he has to leave the house the next day for the procedure he will be so empty that there is no chance he will embarrass himself. The procedure itself is not embarrassing. My cousin died from this cancer when he didn’t have to if they had caught it earlier. Please urge him to go!

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About the Author

Matt Queen
Matt Queen

Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.