Keisha R. Callins, MD, MPH
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death among women and 1 in every 24 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. It affects the large intestine and the rectum and is also known as colorectal cancer. Many people are embarrassed to even talk about this part of the body but it definitely deserves more attention. It’s never too early to start taking care of your colon since colon cancer among young women has increased over time. There are tests that are available to help you find out if you have a problem, and many things that you can do to help decrease your chances of developing colon cancer and improve your overall health.
Definitely Do: please discuss with your medical provider if you are having blood or mucus in your stool; change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea); change in bowel con frequent stomach pains, cramping, bloating, or discomfort; weakness or fatigue; unexplained weight loss; unexplained low blood count (anemia); or a family history of colon cancer; and know when your screening should start. Definitely Don’t: please watch your appetite – avoid tobacco use (Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW); limit eating processed meats (like hotdogs), red meat, foods that are high in sugar/fat, foods that are low in fiber; and please monitor your aptitude – maintain a healthy weight and increase your activity level.
The goal of a screening test is to look for problems early, so that we can try to fix things before they become a bigger problem. There are several tests that are available to help check your colon. Two commonly used types of screening tests: Stool-based test (are usually done once each year) looks for signs of cancer, and the Visual exam – Colonoscopy: (evaluates the colon and may be repeated in 5 or 10 years based on what they find). Please discuss with your medical provider ~ WHAT is the most appropriate test for you, and WHEN is the most appropriate time to start screening (usually age 45, but may be sooner for some people based on family history or if you have problems with your bowels).
Colorectal cancer is often preventable, treatable, and beatable. Take control of your lifestyle – eat better, exercise, and don’t be embarrassed to get your screening for colon cancer at the right time. Do it for yourself, and then tell your family and your friends to do the same.
Quote Of The Month:
“That’s the biggest gift I can give anybody:
‘Wake up, be aware of what you are doing and what you can do to prevent from being ill’
~ Maya Angelou ~