Unfortunately, it took the death of Chadwick Boseman for me to dedicate time to research and understand colon cancer. That’s because I have always assumed it was for older adults. The more I read, the more I was starting to see that was no longer the case. What I found during this time was astonishing…
What Is Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer forms when the DNA in cells located in the colon (or rectum) develop mutations. Most of these mutated cells end up being attacked by the immune system or die. However, some get out of control and form tumors.
Colon cancer starts as a growth (polyp) on the lining of the colon or rectum.
Overtime, these polyps can turn into cancer but not all of them. There are different types of polyps.
- Adenomatous polyps: These are seen as pre-cancerous polyps because the could change into cancer.
- Hyperplastic or Inflammatory polyps: These are more common and are typically not cancerous.
- Sessile or Traditional polyps: These are high-risk polyps that could become cancerous.
If a polyp turns cancerous, it can grow into the colon or rectal wall over time. Since there are many layers in the wall, cancer starts in the inner layer and begins to spread throughout the remaining layers.
From there, it can spread into the blood vessels, lymph nodes or even other parts of the body.
This is why early detection is so important.
Doesn’t Colon Cancer Just Effect Older People?
Not anymore. Chadwick Boseman was only 43 years old when he died. He was diagnosed many years before. This isn’t just something we need to be concerned about when we turn 65 anymore.
According to new studies, colon cancer is increasing in younger adults and decreasing in people over 65. This is mainly due to regular screenings in older adults and another factor we will discuss further in this article.
Another study funded by the American Cancer Society concluded that the number of invasive colorectal cancers in people born around 1990 has double compared with those born around 1950.
When Should I Get Screened For Colon Cancer?
This is an interesting question because there isn’t a clear answer. According to the American Cancer Society, people over 45 should begin getting screenings for colon cancer. However, the answer isn’t that black and white.
There are many factors that are involved when it comes to the right time to get regular screenings in order to detect colon cancer early on.
- Family history: If you have a family history of colon cancer, you will want to get screened 10 years before that family member was diagnosed. For instance, if your mother was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 45, you will need to begin getting screened at the age of 35.
- Race: Each year, more than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer. 45% are African Americans. According to a recent report from the American Cancer Society its because of “later-stage diagnosis, it’s because of systemic racism and all that this population has been dealing with for hundreds of years.”
- Lifestyle: Poor diets, obesity, alcohol, and smoking can increase your risk of developing colon cancer.
- Gender: Recently, A Boston oncologist named Kimmie Ng, M.D. started noticing “an alarming trend” over the past decade. Colon cancer diagnosis in men between the ages of 20-40 was increasing. Men are more at risk than women.
- Your Gut: Because of where this cancer starts and how the cells mutate, scientists believe your microbiome has a lot to do with colon cancer. Your microbiome could “result in a benefit or insult to surrounding cells,”- Dana-Farber physician and scientist Marios Giannakis, M.D., Ph.D. For now, it’s looking more like medications, antibiotics and sugar could be the culprits for a bad microbiome. It will take more research to prove this but until then we should maintain a healthy weight, eat foods that are high in fiber, eat gut-friendly foods, limit the amount of sugar we consume, avoid tobacco, stay active and most importantly, listen to your body!
Doctors are not 100% sure of what causes colorectal cancer, but they do agree the factors above could be strongly linked to the disease.
Early detection is key for a higher survival rate so get screened as soon as you can especially if you are at risk because of any of the factors mentioned.
What Colon Cancer Signs Should You Look For?
Common symptoms of Colon Cancer include:
- Bloody stool or rectal bleeding
- Change in bowel movement
- Feeling anemic
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Unintentional weight-loss
- Dark sticky feces
If you have any of these symptoms and if you are considered at risk because of any of the factors listed above, please call your doctor and make an appointment today.
We can’t think “we are too young for colon cancer” or “too busy to go to the doctor” anymore.
The sooner you get screened, the better chance you have.
In the meantime, I found this at home colon cancer test kit.
Second Generation FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) for Colorectal Cancer
This is the #1 at-home test kit that checks for colorectal cancer, colon polyps, diverticulitis, and colitis. Its less than $30!
- Results in 5 Minutes
- Lab Accurate Results
- Same Test used by Labs and Physicians for Colon Cancer Screening
- FDA Cleared for Over the Counter (Home) use
- Two Complete Tests in One Box
I would confirm any positive results and diagnosis with your physician. However, this is a good place to start. I personally bought one and I was surprised how easy and fast it was to get my results.
Folks, it’s time to take colon cancer seriously. It can happen to anyone at any time.
We are saddened by the loss of this talented and amazing man but I know he will save so many lives by bringing awareness to this disease. There will be people diagnosed early on and who will have the chance to live a long life because of him.
Get screened today!
RIP Chadwick Boseman. You were truly Americas favorite super hero and always will be.
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