The prevalence of colorectal cancer is constantly on the rise and has now become the third most prevalent cancer in the United States. Nearly 140,000 are diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer in 2016 alone. Unfortunately, the symptoms of colorectal cancer are extremely subtle, which is the reason why most patients get diagnosed once it becomes too late.
Most Commonly Overlooked Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Given that abdominal cramps may be a sign of various conditions, they are one of the most commonly overlooked symptoms of colorectal cancer.
You shouldn’t panic if you are experiencing a stomachache, but if the stomach cramps are intense and long-lasting, it is very likely that you may be suffering from something more serious, such as colorectal cancer.
These days, many people feel fatigue without any reason, as lack of sleep is very common in modern society.
But, constant fatigue, even when eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, shouldn’t be ignored. Colon cancer causes fatigue for two reasons: it utilizes the body`s energy and it may cause blood loss.
3. Sudden Weight Loss
Many cancers may cause sudden and unexplained weight loss, including colon cancer. Unexplained weight loss refers to an unintentional loss of 5 percent of the body weight within 6 months.
For instance, a person who weighs 150 pounds, losing 7 and ½ pounds within 6 months is considered as unexplained weight loss.
The reason for this sudden weight loss is the fact that cancerous cells use utilize a lot of body`s energy and the immune system is forced to work really hard to prevent the disease from spreading. Consequently, the person experiences a weight loss due to this energy expenditure.
When it comes to colon cancer, a large tumor may also block the colon, affecting the bowel movements and causing sudden and dramatic weight loss.
4. Irregular Bowel Movements
People often neglect their bowel movements, despite the fact that their timing, appearance, and consistency tells a lot about one`s health, such as the presence of colorectal cancer.
Colon polyps are small bunches of cells which affect bowel movements when become cancerous. They typically affect the large intestine function and these changes are manifested by changes in the stool.
If not being caused by other conditions, diarrhea, constipation, watery stool, and loose stool can all indicate colorectal cancer.
5. Bloody Stool
Even though seeing blood in the stool should be taken seriously, most people feel too uncomfortable to share this with their family members their doctor.
If you notice red blood on the toilet paper after wiping or reddish water in the toilet, get checked right away.
Lowering Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer
The good news is that making certain lifestyle changes helps lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Among them are:
1. Eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains
It has been scientifically shown that eating fruits, veggies and whole grains lowers the risk of colon cancer while red and processed meat provide the opposite effect.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising on a regular basis helps lower the risk of developing cancer while being physically inactive increases this risk.
3. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is directly linked to an increased risk of many cancer types, including colon cancer.
4. Limit Alcohol
According to the American Cancer Society, excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of developing cancer. They recommend limited alcohol intake to two drinks daily.
5. Don’t be Overweight
Being overweight weakens the body and makes it prone to many diseases, including colon cancer. Apart from this, it also increases the risk of dying from the disease, due to the fact that being overweight makes the body less able to fight back.