Colon cancer claims Kirstie Alley and Pelé. Here are the main symptoms.

Colon cancer claims Kirstie Alley and Pelé.  Here are the main symptoms.

Colon cancer claims Kirstie Alley and Pelé. Here are the main symptoms.

Colon cancer used to be considered a grandparent’s disease and nobody under the age of 50 had any reason to worry. But that’s just one of the myths about colon cancer. The truth is, colon cancer has been on the rise in young adults for years, and now everyone is at risk – even if you’re twenty years old. After Yale medicine“Yale Medicine Colon & Rectal Surgery physicians report seeing more young patients diagnosed with colon cancer. They diagnosed colon cancer in a father of four in his 30s who for months thought his rectal bleeding was caused by hemorrhoids. There was a week when all seven patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the practice were young, the oldest being 35. The youngest colorectal cancer patient diagnosed at this site in the last few months was 18 years old.” However, if caught early, the survival rate for colon cancer is favorable, according to Yale Medicine: “Although colorectal cancer is often highly treatable, diagnosis can be a great ordeal for millennials and Generation Xers who fall between middle and middle age. 20s to late 50s. It can disrupt careers and hurt personal finances. Young people diagnosed with colon cancer may need to make quick and critical decisions on matters such as sperm or egg preservation in case treatment affects their fertility.” Recognizing the signs and paying attention to the warning signs can be vital. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke to experts who explain what you need to know about colon cancer and symptoms.


What you should know about colon cancer

Jeffrey NelsonMD, FACS, FASCRS, colorectal surgeon who serves as surgical director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Disease at Mercy, tells us, “People should know that everyone has at least some risk of getting it. It might be an “average” risk, but that’s still a risk, and at some point everyone will need some form of screening. For those at average risk, screening should begin at age 45 (colonoscopy or Cologuard, typical these days). For those at higher risk, colonoscopy is the only acceptable screening/monitoring modality indicated and should be performed in consultation with their doctor Colonoscopy diagnoses AND treats many problems (such as polyps) discovered during the examination, which is its main benefit The risks of Colonoscopy, such as perforation or post-bleeding, is uncommon to rare and should not discourage patients from seeking necessary treatment.”

dr J Ben Wilkinson, radiation oncologist with GenesisCare explains: “Colon cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. One of the biggest aspects in the prevention of colon cancer works to promote a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. Regular checkups with a doctor are also important, as early detection makes treatment significantly easier and more effective. But, simply put, a person can reduce their risk of colon cancer by:

  • Exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes per session.

  • Eat a diet high in fiber, fruit, the right vegetables and whole grains, while being low in saturated fat and added sugars.

  • Eliminate chemicals from your lifestyle, which means avoiding smoking or drinking in general.

  • Avoid overeating and if you are obese, start making small, incremental lifestyle improvements every day to lose weight and reduce negative health effects.

  • Knowing your family history, because if you have a family history of colon, rectal, or other types of cancer, you need to take the above steps even more seriously.”


It’s a mystery why colon cancer cases are increasing in people under 50

fast food item

fast food item

dr Nelson reveals: “We don’t know exactly why colorectal cancer is increasing in people under 50, but the usual suspects are typically blamed (Western diet and lifestyle). For this reason, screening is now recommended at age 45 for the average. It should be noted that left-sided and rectal cancers are particularly common in this group.” dr Wilkinson adds, “While the question as to why exactly colon cancer rates are increasing in people under 50 remains to be seen, many physicians point to the increasing prevalence of unhealthy lifestyles as the main cause. Smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and highly processed diets all contribute to increased rates of colon cancer.”


Colon Cancer Misconceptions

gastrologist.  Practice.  Doctor gastroenterologist with probe to perform gastroscopy and colonoscopy

gastrologist. Practice. Doctor gastroenterologist with probe to perform gastroscopy and colonoscopy

dr Nelson says, “A big misconception is that if a patient is feeling good, why should they have it done? See above for the answer. Another is that colonoscopy is dangerous and risky. See again above. Also, patients don’t want to deal with bowel prep, and I agree it’s not great. However, the vast majority of people deal with it just fine. I repeat that if polyps are found and removed before they have a chance to grow into something worse, this can literally save your life. Those are the stakes.” according to dr Wilkinson “there is a big misconception about colon cancer that if you are under 50 you do not need to be screened as a person that may make it advisable to get screened earlier. These screenings can be transformative with a 90% survival rate for patients in whom screening was successful. Always discuss screening with your doctor to see if earlier screening might be a good idea for you.”


Colon Cancer Symptoms

Suffering from abdominal pain touching aching stomach lying on couch at home

Suffering from abdominal pain touching aching stomach lying on couch at home

according to dr Nelson, “colon cancer symptoms typically appear when the disease is advanced and may not even be treatable or curable at that point. These symptoms are rectal bleeding (usually dark blood and clots; sometimes leakage of tissue). Pelvic pain is as worrisome as abdominal pain Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite are worrisome Unexplained anemia and an abdominal mass are late signs of right-sided colon cancer in some cases A change in bowel habits often occurs, and can be the first sign that something is wrong is. Although the list of things unrelated to cancer can cause it, it is long. In all of these cases, a colonoscopy would be indicated.” dr Wilkinson explains, “Many patients in the early stages of colon cancer have no significant impact symptoms. However, as the cancer develops, patients may begin to experience changes in their usual bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, feeling like you haven’t emptied your bowels after a bowel movement, light or dark blood in your stool, loss of appetite , weight loss, painful bowel movements and stomach pain. If a patient experiences any of these symptoms, they should see a doctor.”


Colon cancer can take years to spread

Senior couple doing fitness training at home.

Senior couple doing fitness training at home.

dr Nelson explains: “Colorectal cancer typically spreads slowly and can take 10 to 15 years to develop in sporadic/wild-type cases. However, once it has metastasized, it can grow rapidly (weeks to months) in places like the liver and lungs. (as opposed to years ago.) We have great treatments for colorectal cancer, even in advanced cases, and at Mercy we have a multidisciplinary approach to this problem, as many facilities currently do, know their individual risks so they can get the appropriate screening for them . A quick chat with their doctor can quickly determine what the risk is and inform treatment.” dr Wilkinson tells us: “Colorectal cancer is typically a cancer that spreads slowly and grows slowly over many years. However, more aggressive forms can quickly spread to other parts of the body in a relatively short period of time, making detection and treatment crucial. There are a variety of treatments for colon cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and other forms of cancer therapy. The most successful treatment consists of locating the cancer and surgery to remove the tumor or tumors, with patients experiencing a 50% cure rate. according to the National Cancer Institute.”

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