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Colon Cancer Realities: Awareness, Prevention and Treatment

By HERWriter
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Raise Colon Cancer Awareness This Month Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Screening should start between the ages of 45 and 50, but says some should start as early as their mid-twenties if they have a high family history of the disease.

Screenings aren’t the only way to detect CRC- there are things you may notice every day that are red flags. Symptoms could include a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing stool, which last for more than a few days. You might also experience rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, or darkened stools.

You may also see other physical signs such as stomach pain, decreased appetite, nausea, unintended weight loss, and weakness.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, there are multiple treatment options, but four that are most common.

  1. Colon surgery is normally a primary treatment. The surgeon can take out the cancerous area, as well as surrounding healthy tissue. At Lankenau Medical Center, over 90 percent of the time this is done in a laparoscopic robotic fashion without the need for a colostomy bag.
  2. Another treatment is radiation therapy, the use of high energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can happen in two ways: external (external beam radiation) and internal (brachytherapy implant radiation).
  3. External radiation involves sending radiation directly to the cancer cells. It is painless and only lasts a short amount of time for each treatment.

    • For internal radiation, radiation implants (sometimes called seeds or capsules) are placed inside the body, often as close to the cancer as possible.

    According to RadiologyInfo.org, external radiation patients experience lower doses distributed across a wider area over a longer timeframe, while internal radiation uses higher doses of targeted radiation over a short period.

  4. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancerous cells, WebMD said. It slows or stops the cancer's ability to grow and reproduce. There are various types of chemotherapy and treatment varies for each patient.
  5. Another newer method is called targeted drug therapy, which also blocks cancer cell growth. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy attacks cancer cells directly and is meant to interfere with the process of growth.

While treatments and detection methods continue to advance, Marks told EmpowHER, “Hands down the most powerful thing a person can do to prevent colon cancer is to get screened. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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