Colorectal cancer is a disease that begins in either the colon or the rectum. One of the more common forms of cancer, it caused the death of 51,370 Americans in 2010. While, like any form of cancer, the idea of developing colorectal cancer is a scary thought, there are a number of methods for prevention as well as treatment.
Preventing colon cancer begins with lifestyle choices you make every day:
Nutrition: Choose a high-fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Avoid a diet that is high in saturated fat, such as red meat or processed meats like hot dogs. Also be conscious that cooking foods in high heat—like frying, broiling, or grilling—can increase your risk.
Exercise: Maintaining an active lifestyle can substantially reduce your risk. Exercise will also help you avoid obesity, which increases your chances of dying from colorectal cancer.
Tobacco use; Smokers suffer from an increased risk of not only colorectal cancer, but also colorectal adenomas, noncancerous tumors. Patients who develop this condition are also at an increased risk of having the tumors reappear after having them surgically removed. If you smoke, make every effort to stop.
Alcohol consumption: Drink in moderation, as heavy consumption of alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Unfortunately, there are some risk factors that you cannot control. These factors include:
· Genetic predispositions that increase likelihood of colorectal cancer
· Family history of colorectal cancer
In these instances, being informed and aware of your heightened risk is an important step. Because colon cancer does not usually have symptoms, it is important to trust your body and be conscious of the warning signs, including cramping, thin or bloody stools, or sudden, unexplained weight loss.
In the event that you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, there are three standard treatment options available to you:
- Surgery. This is the most common method for treating colorectal cancer. In many cases, just the cancerous cells and a small amount of surrounding tissue are surgically removed. However, if the cancer has spread to the surrounding organs, the lower colon, rectum and bladder may need to be removed as well.
- Radiation treatment. This method of treatment uses X-rays and other forms of radiation to kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is another standard treatment method used to kill the cancer cells. The treatment involves medications that are taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle.
Trust your instincts and know your body and what is normal for you. If you suspect that something might be wrong, especially if you are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer, see your doctor immediately. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor about regular screenings for colorectal cancer.