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I'm at Risk for Colon Cancer — What Should I Do?

I'm at Risk for Colon Cancer — What Should I Do?

The average lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is approximately 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. As many as 53,010 people are expected to die of colon cancer in 2024. 

Your lifestyle, genetics, and age all influence your personal risk of developing colon cancer. If you have a higher-than-average risk of developing the disease, it’s important for you to take steps to protect yourself.

Here at GastroDoxs, Dr. Bharat Pothuri and our entire team recognize that colon cancer poses a significant health risk and is of extra concern for some people.

We offer the following proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk. We also recommend screenings to detect cancer early. 

What raises your risk of colon cancer?

The following factors put you at higher risk for colon cancer:

Age

The risk of colon cancer increases with age, with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 50.

Family history

Know your family history and find out if anyone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with colon cancer.

If you have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) who has been diagnosed with colon cancer, your risk is nearly double the average

Personal history

If you've had colon cancer or certain types of polyps in the past, your risk of developing it again is increased.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of colon cancer over time. Irritable bowel syndrome does NOT increase your risk of colon cancer. 

Lifestyle factors

Poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption can all contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer.

What can you do?

If any of these risk factors apply to you, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself.

Get screened

Regular screening for colon cancer is the most effective way to detect it early. Early detection means early treatment, which gives you the best chance of beating cancer. For anyone with an average risk of colon cancer, screening with colonoscopies usually begins at age 45. If you don’t have any concerning signs, you can return for another colonoscopy in 5-10 years.

However, if you're at increased risk due to family history or other factors, Dr. Pothuri may recommend screening before age 45 and at more regular intervals. 

Know the signs and symptoms

Be aware of any changes in your bowel habits, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation, blood in your stool, abdominal pain or cramping, or unexplained weight loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, don't ignore them. Make an appointment with us at GastroDoxs immediately.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and limit your intake of red and processed meats. Get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking, and drink alcohol only in moderation.

If we recommend a colonoscopy or other screening test, don't hesitate to schedule it. These tests can save your life by detecting cancer in its earliest stages or identifying precancerous polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.

By understanding your risk factors for colon cancer and taking proactive steps to manage them, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing this potentially deadly disease. Don't wait until it's too late – take control of your health today. Please reach out to our team at GastroDoxs to schedule an appointment.

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