Editorial Archive

Could you be at risk for colon cancer?

Dr. Alain Sotto 3/14/17 3:40 PM

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Alain Sotto
Medical Consultant for the TTC

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada, after lung cancer. If caught early, it is also among the most treatable in 90 to 95 per cent of cases.

A simple test can save your life. The Fecal Occult Blood Test kit (FOBT) only takes a few minutes and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening as part of your regular physical exam.

Who should have a colonoscopy?

You should also have a colonoscopy screening if you:
> Are over age 50 and have blood on your FOBT kit or have any rectal bleeding.
> Have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
> Are 40 years of age and have a family history (parent, sibling, or child) of colonic polyps or of colorectal, uterine, ovarian or breast cancers.
> Use tobacco, drink excessive alcohol or lead a sedentary lifestyle.

What is colon cancer?

All colorectal cancers start with a polyp (a growth on the inner lining of the colon). Polyps can develop into colorectal cancer within 10 to 15 years. Colorectal cancer is preventable by early detection and removal of polyps before they become cancerous.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

There may be no symptoms at first. Rectal bleeding, change in stools or bowel habits, abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and anemia (low iron in your blood) could indicate a problem. If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see your doctor urgently for a colonoscopy referral.

Enough cannot be said about the importance of screening in preventing, detecting and treating colorectal cancer. Early detection is the best line of defense when it comes to protecting oneself from this deadly disease.

For further information please check cancercare.on.ca or colorectal-cancer.ca the City of Toronto’s Colorectal Cancer information page.

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