Colon Cancer: Screening and Prevention

 

Prevention of colon cancer

Screening colon cancer

In addition to minimising risk factors for colon cancer, screening and early detection of pre-cancerous polyps is at the heart of prevention of colon cancer.

It is recommended that people with an average risk of colon cancer consider colon cancer screening around age 50. But those with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner.

Several screening options exist — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you.

Lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of colon cancer

You can take steps to reduce your risk of colon cancer by making changes in your everyday life. Take steps to:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which may play a role in cancer prevention. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get an array of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
  • Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit that may work for you.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you've been inactive, start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes. Also, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain your weight by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Aim to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing the number of calories you eat.

 

Colon cancer prevention for people with a high risk

Some medications have been found to reduce the risk of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. For instance, some evidence links a reduced risk of polyps and colon cancer to regular use of aspirin or aspirin-like drugs. But it's not clear what dose and what length of time would be needed to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Taking aspirin daily has some risks, including gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.

These options are generally reserved for people with a high risk of colon cancer. There isn't enough evidence to recommend these medications to people who have an average risk of colon cancer.

If you have an increased risk of colon cancer, discuss your risk factors with your doctor to determine whether preventive medications are safe for you.

 

Conclusion

Bottom line, colon (colorectal) cancer is the fifth commonest cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Men are slightly more at risk than women. Any age group from young adulthood may be affected, bit it is commonest from age 60 and above. Symptoms of colon cancer are non-specific and may be characterized by abdominal pain, blood in stool or rectal bleeding, fatigue, weakness and unexplained eight loss. Early presentation to your doctor helps early detection and better treatment options. Prevention of colon cancer calls for reduction of risk factors and yearly screening of at risk individuals.

 

Reference

  1. Estimating the incidence of colorectal cancer in Sub–Saharan Africa: A systematic analysis

 

 

 

 

 

Published: February 22, 2020

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