Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a serious disease that can often be prevented or successfully treated with early detection. This article highlights the importance of regular screenings. But when should you consider getting a colon cancer screening? Here are some key factors to help guide your decision.
If You Have a Family History of Colon Cancer
If you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child, who has had colon cancer, you may need to start screenings at an earlier age, typically ten years before the age at which your relative was diagnosed. This is because some forms of colon cancer can run in families, increasing your risk.
If You Have Certain Genetic Conditions
Certain genetic conditions can significantly increase your risk of colon cancer. These include Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). If you have one of these conditions, your doctor will likely recommend starting screenings when you're young.
If You Have Certain Medical Conditions
People with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, have an increased risk of colon cancer. If you have one of these conditions, your doctor may suggest starting regular screenings earlier than 50.
If You Notice Changes or Symptoms
Certain symptoms could indicate colon cancer, including changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. If you experience any of these, seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor may recommend a colon cancer screening to rule out or confirm a diagnosis.
If You Have Certain Lifestyle Factors
Certain lifestyle factors can increase your risk of colon cancer, including a diet high in red and processed meats, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol use. If these factors apply to you, discuss with your doctor whether earlier or more frequent screenings might be beneficial.
Getting screened for colon cancer is a crucial part of maintaining your health as you age. Regular screenings can detect precancerous polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer, and can catch cancer in its early stages when it's easier to treat.
When to start screenings and how often to have them depends on your personal risk factors, including your age, family history, medical history, and lifestyle. It's important to have open discussions with your healthcare provider about your risk and the best screening schedule for you.
Remember, while the thought of getting screened for cancer can be intimidating, these tests can save lives. Being proactive about your health can provide peace of mind and help ensure a healthier future.
Contact a local doctor to learn more about colon cancer screening.Share