Cancer

Preventing colon cancer: Silent disease has been taking a big toll

0313 colon cancer

Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in men, after prostate and lung cancer, and it is the second-most common in women, after breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s estimate for the number of colorectal cancer cases for 2017 is predicted to be 140,000, and it is expected to cause approximately 50,000 deaths during 2017. At McLeod, colorectal disease is the fourth leading cancer site in newly diagnosed patients each year.

Colon cancer is considered a silent disease. Most of the time there are no symptoms. The symptoms that people may experience include a change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, blood in the stool and weight loss. If individuals have these symptoms, the disease already might have progressed to an advanced stage.

The most important action individuals can take to prevent colon cancer is to be screened regularly. However, one in three people between the ages of 50 and 75 have not been screened.

On average, individuals should start being screened at age 50. People who are at high risk, because of family history or because they have other health conditions that make them more likely to develop colon cancer, should be screened at an earlier age. There has also been some evidence that African-Americans should start screening at 45 years of age.

If you have a family history of colon cancer – family members who had colon cancer before age 60 or more than two family members with colon cancer, or conditions that predispose you to the disease, such as familial polyposis, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – then you should be screened at an earlier age.

The gold standard for the diagnosis of colon…