Ways & How

how to prevent colorectal cancer

how to prevent colorectal cancer

Colon cancer is common. Its origins and causes are uncertain. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most easily prevented kinds of cancer. It usually starts as a growth of tissues, called a polyp, which grows in the lining of the colon or the rectum. From the lining, it grows towards the center of these organs, and in advanced stages may penetrate other layers of tissues in the colon and rectal area. Be informed about how to prevent colorectal cancer in order to avoid getting it, and in so doing you will also be improving your overall health and well-being.

  1. Go over your family’s medical history. People with a close family member who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or has had polyps taken out, or have had other forms of cancer, is at higher risk than most. People who are considered high risk will greatly benefit from genetic counseling. The counselor will help assess family history and give advice about a colorectal prevention plan for the individual or his family, as may be necessary. Be open and thorough with your counselor and health care provider, especially if you have concerns or past problems in this area, such as thin or bloody stool, sudden and unexplained weight loss, cramping, or chronic inflammation of the bowels.


  2. Get regular screenings even if you have no symptoms, especially if you are 50 years old or older. People with family history, as established above, should definitely be screened, even before reaching 50. At this age, one in four people will have abnormal cells that will eventually develop into polyps within 10 to 15 years. Screening will catch the signs early, enable a person to get medical help while he still can, and therefore prevent the polyp from reaching a cancerous stage. Since colorectal cancer shows little symptoms while at an early stage, a person may not know he has it until it is well advanced. This is why it is important to have regular screenings, to catch it before the cancer takes hold. The earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis.

  3. Glow with health. We all know the drill: eat a balanced diet; exercise regularly; maintain a healthy weight level; get plenty of rest; drink lots of water; give up smoking and alcohol intake. Maintaining overall good health boosts the body’s immune system, making a person more capable of countering diseases. It also counters other colorectal cancer risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. Smoking is not only very damaging to the lungs and other body parts, it also increases the colon cancer risk because cigarette smoke brings carcinogens all the way to the colon.

    A diet rich in fiber, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, low fat dairy products, and having less of saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium, is very beneficial for overall health. Avoid processed food, especially meat. Regular intense physical activity has been shown to lower the risks for colon cancer and polyp growth. When a person is healthy, he not only lowers his risk for colorectal cancer, he safeguards his body and health against a host of other diseases, as well.

Even if a person has already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, if discovered early, it need not be a life sentence. Colon cancer is highly treatable, and most cases respond well to treatment. Simple lifestyle changes may even speed up the recovery. Nevertheless, it will serve us well to remember this one important thing about how to prevent colorectal cancer: early detection is key.


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