March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month
As March marks Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Well Sunday would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness about this disease, which affects thousands of Canadians each year.
Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in Canada, with over 26,000 new cases diagnosed annually. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada. While these statistics can be alarming, it's important to know that colon cancer is highly preventable and treatable when caught early.
Screening is the best way to detect colon cancer early, and the Canadian Cancer Society recommends that adults aged 50 to 74 get screened for colon cancer every two years. Screening tests include fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. These tests can detect polyps or abnormal growths in the colon before they develop into cancer. Depending on your family history, age, or other cancer risk factors some individuals start screening earlier or more frequently.
It's also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, which can include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation that lasts more than a few days
- Blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness/ fatigue or iron deficiency
- Unintentional weight loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider right away.
In addition to regular screenings, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer, including:
- Eating a healthy diet that's high in fiber and low in red and processed meats
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking or quitting if you do smoke
- Limiting your alcohol consumption
I strongly encourage you to speak with your health care provider about the right options for you depending on your family history, age, and other risk factors.
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