These are the symptoms to watch out for:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Losing weight without trying
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends 45 for the minimum age of colorectal cancer screening. While five years earlier is a big start, more still needs to be done.
Chadwick Boseman died last year of colon cancer at the age of 43, which is still younger than the recommended screening age. It’s important that we take charge of our own health and push the issue when we sense something is wrong.
Although those who may not have symptoms don’t have that luxury.
One way patients can get a doctor to recommend an earlier screening is by knowing their family history of cancer. Black people are less likely than white people to know this information, but it can help immensely. So try digging more into your family history and learning about their health complications.
In the meantime, lowering the age of the screening will allow 22 million more people to be eligible for a screening.
Taking Charge of Your Health
Here are ways you can prevent yourself from developing colon cancer or get an earlier diagnosis:
- At-home-testing- A JAMA study shows that increasing at-home testing can help. Increasing at-home testing from 15 to 22 percent resulted in an additional 655,825 colorectal cancer screenings and 2,715 colorectal cancer diagnoses. Seventy-two percent of those were found in an early stage. When found at an early stage patients can survive five or more years.
- Follow-ups- If something abnormal is found during the test, it’s important to have a follow-up test immediately. Earlier detection can reduce the disparities in colon cancer between black and white people by nearly half.
- Eat more vegetables- Try eating less red meat and processed meats such as hot dogs, which can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. Instead opt for a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, all have proven to decrease your risk of developing colon cancer.
- Exercise- Not being active can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. So try implementing activities to get your body moving into your schedule.
- Watch your weight- As mentioned before, being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing colon cancer.
- Avoid Alcohol- While it’s best to refrain from drinking altogether, if you must have a drink it is recommended to limit your intake to two drinks a day for men and one for women.
- Avoid Smoking- If you are a long-term smoker, you are more at risk of developing and dying from colon cancer, than someone that doesn’t smoke.