While cancer research continues to make important advances, it is still not clear what causes colon cancer. We do know most colon cancer begins as a non-cancerous growth in the colon or rectum called a polyp.
Most of the time, people don’t have any idea that they have polyps. In the very early stages of colon cancer, there may be no symptoms at all. This is why it is so important to talk with your doctor about colorectal cancer screening.
Four commonly used screening tests are: testing for blood in stool; double contrast barium enema study; sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Any of these tests can be performed alone, or in combination with another test, depending upon your specific needs.
All four are usually done in the outpatient setting or in your own home. Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about which test is best for you.
While we don’t know the cause of colorectal cancer, some factors that may put you at higher risk include:
- Age (people age 50 and older are more at risk)
- A history of polyps
- History of other cancers, a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer.
- Having a close relative who has had colon cancer (although most people who develop colorectal cancer have no family history)
- Having diabetes, certain bowel disorders or genetic predisposition
In addition, lifestyle choices may increase the risk of colon cancer. Being inactive, overweight, eating a diet high in fat and low in fiber, alcohol consumption, and smoking can increase our risk of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third-most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the U.S. Screenings can prevent or catch it early when the likelihood of a cure is greatest. Some symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Blood in stool
- Frequent constipation or diarrhea
- Change in bowel habits or change in stool
- Abdominal pain, bloating or discomfort that doesn’t go away
- Feeling that you are unable to empty bowel completely
- Unexplained weight loss
- Symptoms such as these can be caused by other problems too, so it is important to tell your doctor about any symptoms you are having as soon as possible.
Colorectal cancer screenings save lives.
Ask your physician for a referral or call Centennial Gastroenterology Associates directly at 541-464-6260 for an appointment.
Appointments are available within two to three weeks. Don’t wait.