It’s no longer just older people that get colon cancer, and it’s not predominantly men anymore, either. Recent research has shown a 50 percent rise in colorectal cancer in the under-55 age group, as well as a 62 percent rise in colorectal cancer among white women under 49. In this younger age group, women are being diagnosed more often than men!
This research has led the American Cancer Society to recommend that first-time colon cancer screenings at age 45. Make sure all your friends get the message: colorectal cancer is on the rise, and everyone is at risk—regardless of age or gender.
When Should You Get Screened?
This depends on your age, risk factor and symptoms.
Age: Ensure you schedule your first screening before age 50 (45 if you can). Your physician may advise you to get it earlier if you have factors increasing your risk.
Risk factors: If you have Lynch syndrome (a cancer caused by an inherited genetic flaw), your risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50 is markedly increased. If a family member has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or advanced polyps, this also increases your risk.
Symptoms: Unfortunately, many people don’t have any symptoms at all, meaning that it is vital to schedule and attend your colon cancer screenings when as recommended. However, some people do experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits: increased constipation, diarrhea, narrow or ribbon-like stools
- The feeling of needing to have a bowel movement but being unable to do so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools or blood in stool
- Cramping or abdominal (tummy) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unexplainable weight loss
If you are having any of these symptoms, don’t “die of embarrassment”—talk to your doctor. They will not be embarrassed, and that talk could save your life.
Two Steps to Preventing Colon Cancer
- See your doctor immediately if you have any symptoms or if you believe you have increased risk factors for colorectal cancer.
- Even if you feel perfectly fine and have no symptoms, schedule and attend your colonoscopies when they are due. Precancerous abnormalities can be removed during the screening, actually helping to prevent colon cancer.
If you are experiencing symptoms or need to schedule your screening colonoscopy, contact the expert gastroenterology team at San Antonio Endoscopy Centers at (210) 775-2265 or fill out an appointment request form and a team member will contact you soon. At San Antonio Endoscopy Centers, every GI physician is fellowship-trained in gastroenterology, the medical staff is highly specialized in endoscopic procedures, and you will receive the highest quality of care in a comfortable, private setting for a fraction of what hospitals charge for the same outpatient procedure. Get scheduled to get screened today—save your life!