Colon health

As always, when reading any discussion about health, a guy should have had, be having, or plan to have, a complete head to toe physical by his physician.  And, of course, this includes inside, too.

The following information is from Rectal & Colon Cancer in Men at WebMD.com:

  • The lifetime chance of developing colon cancer is 1 in 20.
  • Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 50 (unless there are symptoms or family history of such).  Men under the age of 40 rarely develop colorectal cancer.
  • Lifestyle factors that raise the risk of colorectal cancer include alcohol use, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and high fat (mostly from meat) diet.
  • Symptoms include blood in the stool, black stool, abdominal pain, general malaise, and change in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation).

There are three main screening methods:

  • Colonoscopy:  The insertion of a flexible tube into your anus, while you are under anesthesia.  Your gastroenterologist can usually see and remove polyps or cancer before it spreads.  If your colon is “clean,” you probably won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years.

  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy:  This scaled-down version of a colonoscopy is another way to view the lower colon and rectum.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test:  This involves checking for blood in a small stool sample.  Colorectal cancers often bleed.  Blood in your stool usually leads to a colonoscopy to look for cancer.

Treatment for colorectal cancer:

  • Cancer that is self-contained inside a polyp can often be cured with a colonoscopy.  A device on the end of the colonoscope cuts the entire cancer out.  A specialist usually examines the polyp for signs of cancer.
  • If colorectal cancer has spread into the bowel wall, surgery is needed.  Part or all of the colon is removed.
  • Once the cancer has spread into the body, treatment becomes more complex.  It will usually involve chemotherapy or other target treatment procedures.

What to do to lower risk of colorectal cancer:

  1. Several lifestyle activities can lower the risk of colorectal cancer in most men.  Increasing physical activity is important.  Talk to your physician if you have questions or concerns about limitations.
  2. Reducing, or better yet, eliminating all smoking and alcohol use is also highly recommended.
  3. Finally, a proper diet will not only reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but will benefit you in many other healthy ways.  As always, talk to your physician about any dietary changes, especially if you have other health concerns.

The dietary chart below is a good place to start:

Colon health


And now, to lighten things up a bit…

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