Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
March is Colorectal Cancer awareness month, and it is estimated that in 2022 another 151,030 newly diagnosed persons will join the 1.4million people who are already living with this highly preventable disease. This is the third most prominent and dangerous form of cancer in the United States. Colorectal Cancer involves both the colon and rectum which forms 2/3 of the body’s digestive system. This disease usually starts with a buildup of growth called polyps along the walls of the colon which can become cancerous. The reason why this disease is so deadly is because it is hard to be detected. The symptoms are sometimes ignored or mistaken for far less dangerous health issues such as stomach virus or irritable bowel symptoms.
After the age of 50 the risk of this cancer increases. Having a close relative such as parents, siblings or a child with colorectal cancer increases the risk of a person developing this type of cancer. When compared to other races being African American also increases the risk and death from this disease.
1. Diarrhea can be an early sign because polyps or tumors can lead to malabsorption that leaves the gut processes in liquid form.
2. Constipation which may be due to not enough water and fiber intake. But this may also be due to poly stuck in the digestive pathway which prevents the smooth passage of waste and also may cause bleeding.
3. Stool looks different from normal for example small, ribbon like. Stool should be form and solid after the body take out all the nutrients.
4. Irregular bowel movements- a person should have one to two bowel movements per day and routine without pain or discomfort.
5. Abdominal discomfort/pain and cramps can be sign of blockage.
6. Blood in the stool should be a warning sign. This does not always mean cancer; it may be a small tear from straining or passage of hard dry stool that irritates areas of hemorrhoid. However, this should never be ignored especially if there is mucus or dark blood that looks like grape jelly in the stool.
7. Excessive unexplained weight loss which may be due to a person eating less food because of pain or discomfort after eating.
8. Frequency and urgency of bowel movements suggests that something is wrong. People with colon cancer tends to go to the bathroom a lot because the cancer is preventing the gut from fully emptying out.
9. Excessive feeling of bloating and gas because the gut is not properly emptying, and waste is backing up in the body. It can also be noted of fullness even with intake of a small meal.
10. Constant fatigue can be a symptom of many illnesses such as colon cancer. This might happen from anaemia that developed secondary to bleeding in the colon which led to iron deficiency.
If you are anyone you know are experiencing any of the above symptoms it's time to talk to your doctor about being tested for this highly preventable disease that is 90 % curable if detected early. Some of these symptoms may be difficult to mention because of embarrassment. However, no one dies from embarrassment, but they do die from Colorectal cancer. If you are nearing or over 50 get screened and if younger with symptoms get screened also. Remember cancer of the colon is highly treatable and often curable when it does not spread from the gut to any other area. Early detection that warrants surgery usually results in a cure of up to 50%. Be aware of your bowel and body habits, talk to your doctor about your concerns, know your family health history and remember screening is a very important tool for all health conditions.