Be Informed, about Colon Cancer

colonA recent New York Times article titled, What Young People Need to Know About Colon Cancer, shared the experience of a 34 year old women who had been diagnosed with colon cancer, though she had been having signs that something was wrong for the previous ten years. It highlighted the need to “raise the flag to be vigilant” because even though the “frequency in younger adults is still relatively low” it has been increasing.

The article offered suggestions on what you can do:

  • If you don’t already have a Primary Care Physician who you like and trust, find one! Establishing a relationship with your doctor when you are well will make it more likely he/she will be better able to assess your concerns when you are unwell. Also, trusting your physician will make it easier if you have embarrassing or worrisome symptoms to share.
  • Know your family history, particularly your first-degree relatives: parents, siblings, including other diseases in addition to colon cancer (e.g., other cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney disease). And share what you know with your doctor.
  • Listen to your body and know your normal. If something doesn’t seem right and persists (symptoms of colon cancer can include changes in bowel habit or appearance of the stool, bleeding from the rectum, blood in the stool or toilet, dark- or black-colored stools and/or unintentional weight loss), keep a journal, take pictures and schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
  • If you feel your concerns are not being addressed, discuss this with your doctor or seek out a new physician. Advocate for yourself if you feel you are being dismissed or not getting results.
  • Embrace a healthier lifestyle which can lessen your risk for a number of diseases. Incorporate fruits, vegetables and fiber into your diet and avoid eating lots of red and processed meats. Maintain a healthy weight, cut out smoking, exercise and limit your alcohol intake.

A brief overview of Colon cancer and resources can be found in a previously shared post, click here.

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