Colon Cancer Screenings and Prevention
The American Cancer Society estimates in 2018 there will be about 97,200 new cases of colon cancer and 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer. The good news is colon cancer is highly curable when found and treated in the early stages. That's why a colon cancer screening test, such as colonoscopy, is essential for men and women aged 50 or older, those with a family history of colorectal cancer, and African Americans. In fact, in many cases, early detection of polyps (growths in the colon) can prevent colon cancer altogether; the growths can be removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer.
Cancer screenings are used to find signs of cancer when no cancer symptoms are present. There are two general types of colorectal cancer screening tests:
- Looks for both cancer and polyps. This is the preferred screening method, if available, because it is more comprehensive. These tests can examine the insides of the colon to look for signs of cancer. Examples of this type of screening include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema and CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).
- Looks for cancer only. These tests look for blood in the stool and can often be performed at home. Although less invasive, these tests are not good at detecting polyps. A positive result requires a follow-up colonoscopy or other imaging procedure. Examples include fetal occult blood test (FOBT) and fetal immunochemical test (FIT).
Common colon cancer screening tests include the following:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Double-contrast barium enema
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
- Home tests
Lifestyle Prevention Tips
Cancer and nutrition experts say approximately 50 percent of colorectal cancers are preventable by combining a diet that includes fiber with daily physical activity and weight management. Try these diet and nutrition tips to protect yourself from colon cancer:
- Eat more dietary fiber. Just 10g of fiber a day can reduce your risk for colorectal cancer by 10%.
- Cut calories to reduce excess abdominal fat. Belly fat is linked to changes in insulin and increased inflammation.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. More than 1 drink for women or 2 drinks for men per day increases colon cancer risk by 14%.
- Limit processed and red meats. Try fish and meatless meals that include beans for protein.
- Add cancer-fighting foods to your diet: Garlic, calcium-rich foods (milk), deep green/cruciferous veggies, red and orange fruits.
Schedule a Colonoscopy
Community's gastroenterologists and colorectal specialists are experts in performing colonoscopy to check for colon cancer. Call 800-777-7775 today to schedule your colonoscopy and know your risk.