What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers and its incidence has increased in recent years. It is the third most common in men and the second in women. However, it is a tumor that is easy to diagnose and when it is detected early, the cure rates are very high.
It almost always develops on a benign lesion called a polyp, which over the years can become a malignant tumor. Sometimes it also affects the rectal area (the end of the colon) and is called colorectal cancer. Only 5-10% of these polyps turn into cancer.
Can colon cancer be prevented?
There is no exact way to prevent colon cancer 100%, but there are steps you can take that can help lower your risk of developing it:
- Active and healthy lifestyle
Increasing the level of physical activity and leading an active and healthy life helps reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Limiting a sedentary lifestyle and time spent sitting or lying down can also prevent the risk of colon cancer.
- Healthy eating habits
Consuming a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole foods will reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. It is also important to limit the consumption of red meat (pork, lamb …) and processed meats (cold cuts, sausages …), since according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, this type of food produces a greater risk of colorectal cancer due to its content of saturated fat, which favors the rapid proliferation of colon cells.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and tobacco
Drinking alcoholic beverages increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Avoiding its consumption can help prevent this cancer.
Smoking is directly linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as many other cancers and other health problems. Quitting smoking helps reduce the risk of colon cancer, among others.
- Pay attention to your bowel movements and avoid constipation
It is important to know how our body works and to detect when something goes wrong. If you notice some changes in your bowel movements such as blood in your stool, changes in your bowel rhythm, abdominal pain or discomfort, weight loss for no apparent reason, and the appearance of fatigue, you may be experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer.
- Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests
Screening tests are done as part of the process of determining the presence of cancer or precancer in people who do not have any symptoms of the disease.
These tests are crucial to prevent this cancer. They are recommended for all people over 45 years old. People at higher risk, such as those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, may start screening at an earlier age.
Here are some of the colorectal cancer screenings:
- Stool tests such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), and the DNA blood test.
- Visual tests such as colonoscopy, CT colonography, or flexible sigmoidoscopy.
- Spanish Association Against Cancer. “Prevention of colon cancer”. Available online: https://www.aecc.es/es/todo-sobre-cancer/tipos-cancer/cancer-colon/prevencion
- American Cancer Society. “Can colorectal cancer be prevented?” Available online: https://www.cancer.org/es/cancer/cancer-de-colon-o-recto/causas-riesgos-prevencion/prevencion.html
- Bestincancer.org. “How can I prevent colon and rectal cancer?” Available online: https://mejorsincancer.org/2015/04/30/como-puedo-prevenir-el-cancer-de-colon-y-recto/