Across the country, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death related to cancer. Thankfully, our state’s overall mortality rate from colorectal cancer is lower than the national average. However, this is made possible largely due to early diagnosis and removal of polyps – up to 90% of individuals survive at least five years when an early diagnosis is made.
Prevention is always better than cure, and never more so than when cancer is involved. Here are three ways to minimize your risk and catch colorectal cancer as early as possible for the best treatment possible.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
It’s never too late to start reforming your eating habits around a more nutritious diet. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits provide vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, which not only comprise a balanced diet but have also been linked with reduced cancer risk.
Along with proper nutrition, you should cut out unhealthy elements of your lifestyle. Alcohol should be taken in moderation, if at all. Smoking has been consistently linked with a high risk of various cancers and is a habit that must be stopped. Seek all necessary help from your doctor and other support groups to be able to quit smoking.
Don’t forget to exercise regularly – a healthy weight is not only good in general, but reduces your risk of cancer, and your odds of surviving if you get diagnosed with cancer. Utah’s vast landscapes offer the perfect opportunity for people of all ages to get into outdoor activities. Hiking and biking can be done throughout the year, and as you round into shape, you can get into some of our seasonal sports as well.
Even if you’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle, there are other risk factors for colorectal cancer. A personal history of polyps, one or more family members with a history of colon or rectal cancer, and age over 50 can also be associated with higher risk.
Colorectal cancer is also associated with certain diseases such as diabetes and chronic inflammatory conditions of the intestine. If you’re suffering from ulcerative colitis, while seeking treatment here in Utah, you may also want to undergo screening.
Undergoing a colonoscopy or running fecal tests are some of the options for screening. There are other options as well, but it’s best to talk with your doctor about which tests should be done, along with the schedule and frequency.
Know the symptoms
Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle, and undergoing screening will only reduce the risk of cancer. Changes can occur in the period between screenings, for instance. Recognizing the symptoms of colorectal cancer should put you on alert right away.
If you notice bleeding from your rectum or in your stool, pain or discomfort in your abdomen, or changes in your bowel habits or the color and consistency of your stool, these are among the possible symptoms of colorectal cancer. Sudden weight loss, or persistent weakness or fatigue, and the sensation of incomplete voiding of the bowels are also to be considered. Consult your doctor immediately to determine the next course of action.
Medical advances over the years have greatly helped reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, but your role is the most important. The best outcomes are always paired with your vigilance and healthy habits.