Colon cancer is a medical condition where malignant cancerous growths mainly originate in the colon or the large intestine. Believed to be the sixth most common type of cancer prevalent in India (As per the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre), the colon cancer can metastasize and affect the other healthy body parts and organs.
The symptoms that may be indicative of colon cancer include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- A person may suffer from anemia (triggered by iron deficiency).
- Rapid and unexplained loss of body weight.
- There may be rectal bleeding (blood may also appear in the stool). There may also be pain and discomfort during the bowel movement.
- A person may experience extreme weakness and fatigue.
- Frequent diarrhea or constipation.
- A person may complain of abdominal pain and cramps.
- There may be a change in the consistency of the stool.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the symptoms associated with colon cancer may not appear in the initial stages, thus complicating the situation.
Prevention and management of Colon Cancer
A little alertness on your part can help to prevent colon cancer.
- Regular health checkups and screening: Whether the symptoms appear or not, health check-ups at regular intervals are a must. In addition to preventing colon cancer, regular health check-ups can also help to avert a host of other health complications. The screening tests for colon cancer are necessary for people who have a family history of colon cancer and also those who are above 50 years of age. The various screening tests for colon cancer include:
- Colonoscopy (used to examine the inside of the colon for any abnormalities).
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)/Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) (These tests are carried out to detect the presence of blood in the feces).
- The screening may also be done using Virtual Colonoscopy or Flexible Sigmoidoscopy.
- Forget the unhealthy lifestyle habits: Smoking and drinking (excessive) can be the chief contributors triggering colon cancer. Limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking will not only keep you healthy but also keep colon cancer at bay.
- Shed the extra pounds: The harmful effects of obesity are known to all. Obesity is considered to be one of the underlying factors that can trigger a colon cancer. A healthy body weight can go a long way in preventing colon cancer and keep you fit and active. Minimum 30 minutes exercise daily is all that you need to stay fit and healthy.
- Make healthy changes in the diet: If you want to prevent colon cancer, make your diet as healthy as you can. Enrich it with fruits, vegetables and food items that are rich in fibers, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Dietary fats (red meat or any other processed meats) are a strict no. Choose whole grain products over refined ones. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Oncologist.