Can you have colon cancer with no symptoms? Is it possible to develop colorectal cancers and not know it at all? Well, since March marks the beginning of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about colon cancer and how it can affect you.
So, in this article, we’ll talk about some facts surrounding colon cancer and discuss how it develops. We’ll also discuss screening for colorectal cancer and let you know how you can prevent it.
What Is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer also referred to as colorectal cancer, is a particular type of cancer that develops in your colon or rectum, both of which are parts of your large intestine. The large intestine forms the last portion of the digestive system, where waste is processed and expelled from your body.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancers are the third most common type of cancer affecting Americans. The treatment, prognosis, and symptoms of colon cancer depend entirely on when it’s discovered and what stage of development it is in when that happens.
How Does Colon Cancer Happen?
Although colon cancer generally affects the older population, it can happen to anyone. It starts as a benign collection of cells that begin forming on the inner surface of the colon or rectum. This collection of cells is called a polyp and starts small while showing no symptoms. However, some polyps have the potential to become cancerous and multiply.
This is why it’s essential to get a colorectal screening regularly: doctors can keep an eye on polyps that require removal before they become cancerous.
How Do I Know If I Have Colon Cancer?
To answer the question in the title: yes, you can have colon cancer without any symptoms. The polyps can quietly multiply and grow without you knowing it. Most people who experience symptoms, though, may find the following:
- Weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
- Incomplete evacuation (a feeling that your bowels aren’t empty even after going to the bathroom)
- Blood in your stool or bleeding from the rectum
- Feeling bloated or gassy (can be painful)
So, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to visit a gastroenterologist for a screening. Then, they may screen you for colon cancer and recommend regular screenings based on your age and other risk factors.
Prevention and Conclusion
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer, and they involve simple, healthy lifestyle changes:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
- Exercise regularly. Thirty minutes of walking each day is a good start.
- Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Ask your doctor or dietician for advice.
- Quit smoking.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity for everyone to learn about diseases that affect the rectum and colon. At Gastroenterology Center Texas, we’re proud to educate our community and spread awareness about screening, treatment, and prevention. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our board-certified gastroenterologists, please give us a call at 281-357-1977. We will be happy to help you learn more about colon cancer screening and show you why we’re the best GI in Tomball.