Colo-rectal Awareness: A Silent Killer

Colo-rectal Cancer Awareness month is coming up. Looking at you March. And while it isn’t the most pleasant thing to talk about, no one really likes to talk about poop, let’s admit it, it is extremely important! Colo-rectal cancer is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it can be difficult to detect, especially if you don’t know symptoms to look out for. And while most people are not diagnosed until after age 50, more and more people are being diagnosed at a younger age. When it comes to colo-rectal cancer, there is no such thing as too young.

Colo-rectal cancer is cancer in the colon or rectum, areas that move waste through the body. If caught early, it is very treatable, with over 1 million survivors in the US and a 5 year survival rate over 90%. Currently, colo-rectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the United States, and has 2nd highest cause of cancer deaths in both men and women

At the early stages, polyps are usually the first to develop. These are abnormal growths inside the color or rectum, these can become cancerous over time if not removed. Since early stages of colo-rectal usually do not cause pain, so polyps may be the first sign that something is wrong.

Let’s review the symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Weight Loss without Reason
  • Change in bowel habits including diarrhea, constipation, change of consistency in stool
  • Abdominal discomfort including cramps, gas, pain, full feeling, feeling as though bowel does not completely empty

Anyone over age 50, or those with other risk factors such as IBS, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, should get checked every 1-2 years, depending on doctor recommendations. There are a couple different tests that may be performed in order to check for colo-rectal cancer. One of the most common is a colonoscopy. This is done in the doctors office and does require a day or two of prep at home. Another popular test is the FIT test. This is done in the home. This takes a stool sample and tests it for blood.

Overall it is important to know that any changes in your bowel habits may be only part of a bigger picture. It is important to reach out to your doctor if you have these symptoms, since early detection is key. If you are interested in getting a colo-rectal screening, Park DuValle can help. Contact Sheri Robinson, LPN at 502-774-4401 Ext. 1268

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