Preventing Colon Cancer

Friday 13 July 2012

Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon (large intestine) and rectum) is currently the 2nd most common cancer among men and women. It usually starts as a polyp, which is a small growth in the walls of the colon. Most polyps are benign, but as they grow, can become malignant and develop into colon cancer.

Lack of Symptoms

Colon cancer can be deadly because it exhibits no outward symptoms in the early stages. By the time there are symptoms, the cancer has probably spread to other parts of the body. Detecting colon cancer at the early stage increases the chances of treating it.

Some Telltale Signs
  • Blood in the stools. Diarrhea or constipation for no obvious reason, lasting longer than 6 weeks
  • A feeling of not having emptied the bowel properly after a bowel motion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, cramps)
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting
Risk Factors
  • Age - 50 years and above.
  • Family history - your risk is higher if your parents / siblings have colon cancer or polyps.
  • Unhealthy diet - high in fat and calories and low in fibre.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle - smoking, alcohol intake, sedentary lifestyle, overweight.
  • Personal history of cancer - women who had cancer of the ovary, uterus or breast are more like to develop colon cancer.

How to Reduce the Risk
  • Ensure regular check-ups if above 50 years old. Check-ups may include a physical examination, a faecal occult blood test, a colonoscopy, chest X-rays and lab tests.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. A balanced, nutritious diet will keep you healthy and cope with the cancer and side effects of treatment.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
Colon cancer is a preventable disease. Act now to prevent colon cancer.

(Source: Prevent gut cancer, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, StarFit4Life 17 June 2012)

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