Getting screened for colorectal cancer is “one of the most powerful weapons” in preventing cancer, says the American Cancer Society. Although there is no sure way to prevent colon cancer, if found early on it is usually highly treatable if the correct steps are taken. Fifty percent of patients who receive surgery result in being cured from colorectal cancer, although a recurrence of the cancer is a one of the major issues an often can result in death.
ACS reports that it takes roughly 10-15 years for the first abnormal cells to grow into cancerous polyps. Being screened for these abnormal cells before symptoms start is one of the best methods in preventing growth Screenings available include, Guaiac- based fecal occult blood test and fecal immunochemical test, Stool DNA test, Sigmoidoscoy, Colonoscopy, Double-contrast barium enema and a CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).
If you do not have a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, it is recommended that people start getting screened at age 50. If colon cancer runs in your family, the ACS recommends you start screening earlier on.
Practice Healthy Habits
One of the other best-known ways to prevent colorectal cancer is to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
- Eat Right: Understand what you eat, how much you eat, and prevent weight gain, specifically around the mid-section. Staying away from red meats such as beef, pork, lamb, and processed meats such hot dogs, sausages and lunch meats, is always a good idea. Instead look for foods that are fresh, all natural, and not processed, making sure to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. ACS also recommends that you limit your alcohol intake per day, especially men.
- Keep Active: Staying active and fit is important in the equation of living a healthy lifestyle and preventing colorectal cancer. The ACS recommends that “increasing your level of activity” lowers your risk of colorectal cancer. When you are working out or getting exercise, you should be doing things that make you breathe as hard as you would while going for a fast-paced walk. Remember, the more vigorous the exercise the better it is in preventing colorectal cancer!
- Quit Smoking: It is always good to keep in mind that smoking is linked to many forms of cancer, including colorectal cancer. Quitting smoking can be hard, but there are many resources available, including the ACS Guide to Quitting Smoking.
Learn more about Colon Cancer screenings and treatment at the UVM Medical Center.