WAYNESBORO, Pa. – What’s scarier, the prospect of a colonoscopy or possibility that colon cancer goes undiagnosed?
March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. While any cancer can be scary, colon cancer is often one of the most preventable types of cancer.
“Most often, colon cancer starts with a polyp or small growth, which if found early, can be removed before progressing to cancer,” said Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Andrew Lininger with Summit Gastroenterology. “That’s why it’s important to be screened regularly.”
Adults age 50 and older should schedule a yearly colonoscopy. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should start screening earlier.
In addition to getting screened regularly with a colonoscopy, it is important to know the signs of the disease. Symptoms include:
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of stool) that lasts more than a few days
- Feeling the urge to have a bowel movement that is not relieved after going to the bathroom
- Blood in the stool, which may make it appear dark
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
“It’s important to be aware of these key symptoms, but it’s also just as important to not be overly alarmed if you experience one or two of them, such as changes in bowel habits or cramping,” explained Lininger. “A lot of these symptoms are commonly indicative of a condition like irritable bowel syndrome or even an infection so, the most important thing you can do if you are experiencing symptoms is to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist.”
Lower Your Risk
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get active and limit time spent sitting
- Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily
- Eat whole grains instead of refined products
- Limit red and processed meat consumption
- Limit alcohol intake (No more than1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men, daily)
- Avoid tobacco use in all forms
Summit Gastroenterology is located at 501 E. Main St., past the emergency entrance of Waynesboro Hospital. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click here.