Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada, and anyone can get it.
In 2011 an estimated 22,200 Canadians (12,500 men, 9,700 women) were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 8,900 (5,000 men, 3,900 women) died from it.
This disease affects more men than women, and particularly people aged 50 years or more.
Get Screened? Why?
If colon cancer is detected early through screening, it may be highly treatable and need not be deadly. In most cases, colorectal cancer is preventable and yet each year in Canada, thousands of people are diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer may be present for several years before symptoms develop, when they do appear, they will likely vary. That’s why being screened for colon cancer is so important.
The majority of colorectal cancers begin as benign growths in the lining of the large bowel wall called polyps. Over the years, these polyps grow in size and number, thereby increasing the risk that the cells in the polyps will become cancerous and invade the wall and move on to other organs.
Finding and removing polyps are the key to preventing the development of colorectal cancer. Early removal of these growths will prevent colorectal cancer from developing in the first place, so screening as part of your yearly physical exam could save your life!
While many early sufferers won’t develop symptoms in the early stages, some symptoms to watch for include:
- presence of blood in stool
- ribbon-like stool
- unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
- a feeling of fullness in the rectum
- nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating and fatigue.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Colorectal cancer is the No.-1 cancer that can be prevented through diet, and even baby steps in the right direction can make a huge difference. Some simple lifestyle choices that you can change to help decrease your risk of colorectal cancer:
- Eat a diet high in a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Limit your intake of red and processed meats. Instead, choose poultry, fish, legumes, and low-fat dairy.
- Replace white bread with whole-grain products and legumes.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water every day, to assist your digestive processes.
- Replace transfats and saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fat from salmon, avocados, olive oil and nuts.
- Consume less food made from refined sugar.
- Exercise regularly. Even a 20-minute walk every other day will help.