Everyone Needs a Colonoscopy—Even YOU.
Young? Healthy? What do you need to know about colon cancer?
The answer is a lot.
It’s easy to write off awareness campaigns when your young, but some diseases are silent killers—warning signs are easily written off and detection is delayed past the point of return.
Colorectal cancer is one such disease. It’s got a reputation for being an “old person’s disease,” but, in fact, it is affecting more and more young adults. Newsflash: even if you have a clean bill of health, you need to have a colonoscopy on your radar. Regardless of health, everyone needs a colonoscopy. The only variable is exactly when in your life you might need it.
Whoever You Are, You Are at Risk
Although 90 percent of cases occur in people over 50, researchers have seen a marked increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses in people aged 20 to 49. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that people born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer compared to those born around 1950.
This increase in risk is troublesome because routine colorectal screenings are not recommended for 20 to 49-year-olds, and general practitioners are not likely to think colon cancer when initial symptoms are presented. Nearly 60 percent of people under 55 are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, either because they failed to seek treatment at the onset of symptoms or the symptoms were not identified by general healthcare providers as potential for colon cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
If you have relatives who have been diagnosed with advanced polyps or colon cancer, you’re at increased risk of the disease. In those cases, the most common symptom is no symptom at all. Be your own advocate. Know the symptoms. Know your family history. Be on the lookout for:
- A change in bowel habits (increased constipation, diarrhea, or narrowing of stools)
- The feeling of needing to have a bowel movement but being unable to do so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools or blood in stool
- Cramping or abdominal (tummy) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
The truth is that everyone is at risk of colon cancer. This means you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and you need to forget the idea that screening colonoscopies are only for people over 50. Colonoscopies are an important preventive measure for anyone who has symptoms that may indicate colon cancer or who have a higher than average risk for the disease.
Colonoscopies: The Best Way to Detect and Prevent Colon Cancer
If symptoms arise or you are at higher than average risk due to age, family history, or inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), consult a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist, like the experts at Central Texas Endoscopy.
A gastroenterologist can perform a colonoscopy, which will allow them to check for cancer and remove polyps (clumps of cells) that are cancerous or have the potential to become cancerous. The procedure will also allow your gastroenterologist to assess the general health of your colon, alerting you to any other issues that could cause symptoms or increase your cancer risk.
It’s a far more thorough and accurate option than home screening kits, which miss more than 60 percent of pre-cancerous polyps.
Remember: YOU need to be aware of colon cancer. Stay alert for the signs and take steps to detect the disease early and get immediate treatment. A colonoscopy is the best way to detect and prevent cancer. It’s a fact: colonoscopies save lives.