March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March is colon cancer awareness month which means it is time to talk about something many people do not want to talk about…colon health. Colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States and second leading cause of death for men and women, second only to lung cancer. Surprisingly, there are multiple screening tools for evaluation of the colon which could be life saving. Colon cancer is caused by an abnormal accumulation of cells called a polyp. Polyps can be found and removed while they are precancerous or at an early stage with proper screening. It is recommended that all people start colon screenings at the age of 50, and even earlier depending on personal and family history.

Symptoms of colon cancer include abdominal pain and bloating, changes in your bowel habits, constipation or diarrhea, rectal bleeding or blood in your stool. Some of these symptoms are easily ignored and treated with over the counter remedies. Other symptoms are more serious, but people aren’t quick to talk with their doctors about more seemingly embarrassing symptoms. Risk factors for colon cancer include age, race, diet, exercise level and other health problems. If you have any symptoms and are in a high risk category, it is time to talk with your doctor about a referral to a gastroenterologist for examination. There are several different types of tests to evaluate for colon cancer, and you and your doctor can discuss the test that’s right for you.

Don’t let this March go by without talking with your doctor about screening. Let’s start conversations that may be uncomfortable, but save lives. Even if you are symptom free but over 50, it is time to talk to your doctor.

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