March is an important month for saving lives. Specifically, it is Colon Cancer Awareness month, which is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Colon cancer, sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, is any cancer that starts in the colon or rectum, and is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths each year. While that might sound scary, the truth is that more than 60 percent of these deaths could be prevented by a simple screening. In other words, by raising awareness on how to detect colon cancer early, we can save lives.
The Key is Detecting it Early
While colon cancer may strike without warning, that doesn’t mean it has to come as a surprise. Especially as you grow older, regular examinations and colorectal screenings will help you spot any potential danger before it becomes a serious problem. Here are the three most common types of screenings:
- Colonoscopy – This test involves using a colonoscope, a flexible tube camera, to view the inside of your intestines and check for abnormalities
- A Stool-DNA Test – The stool DNA test is a noninvasive laboratory test that identifies DNA changes in the cells of a stool sample.
- Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – This test takes a look at your personal waste to identify tiny amounts of blood that are common in patients with colon cancer.
Please consult a medical professional for more information on each of these tests, or to learn what other options are available. Regardless of which option would be best for you, the important thing is to get checked. One in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their lifetime, so don’t hesitate to schedule a screening.
Some Early Warning Signs to Watch for
While there are no guaranteed red flags when it comes to colon cancer, there are some common symptoms to look for. One of the most alarming things to be wary of is blood in your stool. While there are many issues that could result in rectal bleeding, colon cancer is one of the more serious contenders. Other things to watch for are sudden changes in your bowel habits, unusual stomach pain, unexplained fatigue, weight loss and frequent vomiting.
While none of these symptoms are exclusive to colon cancer, if you begin experiencing several of them, please consult your doctor and schedule a screening immediately. In fact, you may want to just schedule a screening now anyway.
Don’t Forget to Spread the Message
Not only is March the perfect month to remind your family and friends to schedule their own exam, but it’s also the month to wear blue—the color for colon cancer awareness. The official “Dress in Blue” day is Friday, March 2, 2018, but you can spread the word all month long by sharing your blue outfits online with the hashtag #HowToBlue
If you have coverage through Nevada Health Link, you can feel safe knowing that we’ve got your back should anything go wrong. Many preventative health costs are covered with even the most basic of plans. If you don’t currently have coverage, you can learn more about how to apply for a Qualifying Life Event here.
The fight against colon cancer is one that we can win, as long as we make it known what steps need to be taken to catch colon cancer early. And the first step, is to schedule a screening for yourself with your primary care doctor or through Nevada Cancer Coalition if you are uninsured.