One of the biggest barriers to decreasing this disease is the social stigma surrounding this topic. Most people do not want to even talk about a colonoscopy and even less people are wiling to have the procedure done. The statistics show that 1 in 3 still are not getting screened. By increasing this awareness and having these conversations, my hope is that we will reduce that stigma. Help me spread the word about preventing this disease, maybe be can see the number of people affected drastically drop in our lifetimes.

You probably have heard a few statistics about colon cancer. You may know that it is detected through a screening procedure called a colonoscopy and that it recommended to start being screened at age 50. You may know that eating a balanced diet with fiber from fruits and vegetables helps decrease your risk of colon cancer. You may even know that colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers out there, but there are somethings that you may not know. Keep reading for more information about Colon cancer and prevention.

Things you Probably Didn’t Know About Colon Cancer

  • It affects men and women equally

  • it is possible to develop colon cancer at young ages

  • It is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths, only after lung cancer

  • GI diseases like Colitis and Crohn’s increase your risk of colon cancer by 50%

  • It is highly genetic, meaning that your risks increase if you have a family member who has been diagnosed

  • Regular screening begins at age 50 UNLESS YOU HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY OR A GI DISEASE

  • It starts out as a polyp

  • It it is 100% preventable (no polyp means no chance of cancer)

How is Colon Cancer Prevented?

This is one of those rare times where you will here me say that a pre-screening tool can PREVENT a disease. Here is why; Colon cancer ALWAYS starts out as a polyp. If there is no polyp there literally can not be cancer. Polyps are most common in older adults, that is why the recommendation to start getting screened is at age 50. That is unless you have a family member who has a diagnosis of colon cancer, then the recommendation for you is 10 years sooner that the age your family member was when they were diagnosed. For example, if your aunt had colon cancer and was diagnosed at age 48, how old should you be when you get your first colonoscopy? If you answered 38, ding ding ding, you are right. During a colonoscopy, the doctor will look for polyps and remove them from the colon. You can see how that will prevent cancer. Again, no polyp, no chance of cancer, it is that simple. If you or a person you know has not been screened at the appropriate age, please have this conversation with them. A colonoscopy can be scary and they seem invasive, but they are routine and life saving. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a routine colonoscopy now than a bowl resection and chemotherapy later.

Other true prevention techniques still stand for colon cancer, just as with any other disease. Get enough exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat a plant based diet rich in fiber and don’t use tobacco.

What should I Expect During a Colonoscopy?

This quick video helps to explain the procedure and goes through these few steps.

  • Prep- 24 hours before the procedure you drink the solution to help you clean out the bowl. This fluid can be flavored and used over a period one day

  • Procedure- the colonoscopy procedure is done under anesthesia and is painless, even when a polyp is found and removed. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes.

  • Recovery- 45 minutes in the recovery room before being discharged. You do need a ride home though, please do not plan to drive yourself after being under anesthesia. Some may feel nauseous coming out of anesthesia, especially after fasting for the hours before. There is no down time required after the procedure, but you may want to take the rest of the day to recover from the anesthesia and to re fuel your body.

What Are The Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?

  • Change in bowl habits including persistent diarrhea, constipation or thinning of stool

  • Blood in the stool

  • Unusual and unexplained fatigue

  • Most people diagnosed with colon cancer do not have symptoms until later stages

How Can I Make a Positive Impact on Prevention?

  • Get screened
  • Know your risks
  • Talk to your friends and family about their risks

  • Check out Colon Cancer Alliance for more information HERE

  • Register for the Undy Run in your area HERE

The Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run/Walk is a fun event, but colon cancer is no laughing matter. This unique, family-friendly event raises funds and awareness, while also celebrating survivors and honoring the loved ones we’ve lost to this disease. This is the only run where you will receive a pair of boxers instead of a commemorative tee!