As people continue to live longer, cancer becomes a bigger issue, as a significant number of people who develop cancer are in their later years. One example is colon cancer, which is a disease that often progresses unnoticed until its later stages because do symptoms do not show up as early as other forms of cancer. Fortunately, it is possible to be proactive about colon cancer. As long as people get their colonoscopies on time, it is possible to catch colon cancer early. Furthermore, it is important for you to know what symptoms to look for.
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It is critical to understand a few common misconceptions people have about this type of cancer. What are the facts about colon cancer?
Misconception: Colon Cancer Only Impacts Men
The first common misconception people have about colon cancer is that this is a disease that only impacts men. In reality, the chances of developing colon cancer are relatively even between both genders. For example, information from the American Cancer Society indicates that approximately 4.5 percent of men and 4.15 percent of women will develop colon cancer at some point in their lives. Because a significant portion of the population is going to develop colon cancer, it is important to get appropriate colon cancer performed on time.
In addition, people of African American descent are more likely to develop colon cancer than other ethnicities; however, this is a disease that can impact people of all races. Therefore, everyone should listen to their doctor when it comes to colon cancer screening.
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Misconception: If I Have Regular Bowel Movements, I Don’t Have Colon Cancer
It is true that colon cancer can have an impact on someone’s bowel movements; however, this is not always the case. In reality, plenty of people who have colon cancer still have regular bowel movements. This is why a lot of the symptoms are not obvious. If people overlook colon cancer because their bowel movements are regular, the disease can progress unchecked.
Therefore, it is important for everyone to be aware of some of the most common symptoms of colon cancer. These include:
• Any signs of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
• Any change in bowel habits, including going to the bathroom more frequently or less frequently
• Sudden, unexpected, and unintentional weight loss
• Persistent symptoms of gastrointestinal distress including excess gas, abdominal pain, and cramping
• Severe abdominal pain that becomes intractable overtime
• A feeling of the bowels not emptying completely
Anyone who has these symptoms could have colon cancer; however, not everyone with colon cancer is going to develop these symptoms. Instead, this is the reason why it is important to start screening for colon cancer even in people without symptoms. The vast majority of people will start having colonoscopies at age 50; however, in some people including those with a family history positive for colon cancer, this screening process could start earlier.
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Misconception: A Diagnosis of Colon Cancer Means it’s Too Late
The sooner colon cancer is diagnosed, the faster the treatment process can begin. This means the prognosis will probably be better if colon cancer is caught earlier. The reality is that there are treatment options at every stage of the illness, no matter what stage it is detected. Therefore, everyone should have hope even if they are diagnosed with a case of colon cancer. Common treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and various targeted therapies. In some cases, the cancerous segment of the colon could be removed. In other cases, chemotherapy can be used to target cells that divide rapidly, including cancer cells.
Misconception: People Without a Family History of Colon Cancer Do Not Need Screening
This is another common misconception that people have. It is true that individuals who have a family history that is positive for colon cancer do have to undergo a different screening regimen. Usually, this means getting colonoscopies earlier and more frequently. On the other hand, a significant number of people are diagnosed with this type of cancer even if they do not have a family history that is positive for colon cancer. Therefore, it is critical for everyone to be screened for colon cancer, even if I do not have people in their family who have had this disease.
Knowledge Is Power When it Comes to Cancer
When discussing colon cancer, knowledge is the best offense. It is critical for everyone to educate themselves on colon cancer, the symptoms, the screening process, and the treatment process. The more people know about this disease, the more likely it is they will get are colonoscopies performed on time. Furthermore, the sooner symptoms of colon cancer are detected, the faster the treatment process can begin. Earlier diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer have the potential to save lives.