March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month


ID-10046782March is colon cancer awareness month in the U.S. and this is an excellent time to really expand on the knowledge that most people may or may not currently have about colon cancer. Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and rectum. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women, with 55,000 of those affected deaths occurring in the United States alone each year. It is estimated that nearly 137,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, so it’s incredibly important that both men and women are aware of the symptoms of colon cancer as well as screening procedures and treatment options.

The causes of colon cancer tend to be fairly consistent. Most commonly, colon cancer is a result of abnormal cell growth in the lining of the colon or a polyp forms. After a period of time this abnormal growth can convert into cancer. This period of time may be as a long as ten to fifteen years before the polyp turns cancerous. It is very important that patients receive regular screenings in order to monitor overall colon health and spot these polyps before they turn cancerous. Colonoscopies are an excellent tool used by doctors to determine if any abnormalities, such as polyps are present. Luckily, it is relatively easy to remove polyps during this procedure and thus eliminate the risk of colon cancer, assuming that regular screenings and symptom awareness continues.

In addition to undergoing a colonoscopy, it’s important for men and women to be aware of their bodies should symptoms consistent with colon cancer arise. Symptoms of colon cancer include:

• Blood in stool or other changes in bowel movements; e.g. constipation and diarrhea
• Consistent and unending stomach pain
• Unintended weight loss
• General fatigue, difficulty breathing

It is especially necessary for individuals age fifty and older to be aware of colon cancer symptoms as well as making sure that they are getting appropriately screened. Colonoscopies should be performed every ten years starting at age fifty. If you are in need of a colonoscopy screening, or if you are age 50+ and are concerned about colon cancer, screenings, or symptoms, please contact a specialist at San Francisco Gastroenterology.

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