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Avera Medical Minute: Importance of screenings highlighted during colon cancer awareness month

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 12:26 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - March is colon cancer awareness month. We talk to Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Adam Bledsoe about colon cancer and screenings in this question and answer series.

Q: How common is Colon Cancer?

A: About one in 25 people in the United States will develop colon cancer. It’s the number three cause of cancer in men and women, and the number two cause of cancer death.

Q: What are the risk factors of colon cancer?

A: Smoking, obesity, or having extra weight, family history is a big, big risk factor. Now there are certain people that have a higher risk, beyond just those lifestyle or family history that would be people, inflammatory bowel disease Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. People with colon cancer syndromes like Lynch syndrome or FAP, and then those with a history of colon polyps are at higher risk for future colon polyps or for colon cancer.

Q: Although there are several types of screening methods, why is a colonoscopy the preferred method?

A: We tend to recommend colonoscopy because both it has a diagnostic role, so we can find colon cancers diagnose colon cancer. We can also diagnose precancerous polyps at the same time, we can also have it also as a therapeutic tool so we can remove precancerous polyps at the time of a colonoscopy as well and prevent colon cancers. So that’s why we tend to recommend colonoscopy but again I always say the best colon cancer screening is the one that gets done. so if people are not comfortable with a colonoscopy, there are other options.

Q: Are there any signs or symptoms that we can be aware of or look for to indicate colon cancer?

A: Blood in the stool, or an abrupt change in bowel habit either constipation or diarrhea. Pain with having a bowel movement, unexplained weight loss, or losing weight, you don’t really have a good explanation as to why the weights coming off. Or if somebody is diagnosed with an unexplained iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia, that could be from slow blood loss from the digestive tract, it could be related to colon cancer.

Q: and what things can we do to lower our risk?

A: Losing weight if you do have extra weight on board. Maintain a healthy, more active lifestyle. And then if you’re if you do use tobacco products, we’ll be stopping smoking, limiting alcohol, increasing fiber in our foods, trying to avoid those really processed foods all those good life healthy lifestyle things that we recommend for many chronic diseases really apply to colon cancer as well.

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