This important examination can find problems and head off deadly cancer.
Many people worry about having their large bowel examined with a colonoscope. While anxiety is normal, the colonoscope is an amazing instrument that gives gastroenterologists like me a very close view of the large bowel, also called the colon.
It helps me see problems such as inflammation or bleeding, and it might save your life if I find a tumor or the tiny, precancerous growths called polyps.
I recommend colonoscopies for several reasons:
Learn more about the symptoms of colon cancer ›
A major, consistent shift in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, changes in stool size or shape, and a lot more or fewer bowel movements than normal for you
Bleeding during bowel movements
Unexplained weight loss
Persistent abdominal pain
A family history of colorectal cancer
An age of 50 or older
Treatments can control the cancer and improve your quality of life by controlling your symptoms.
Once you know the stage of cancer you have, it is time to decide on a treatment plan. This section will help you understand your options and what’s best for you. Talking about your treatment choices will be one of the most important meetings you’ll have with your doctor.
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your doctor about how much time you can take to explore your options before you must decide. You may want to get another opinion before making a decision. And you may want to talk with your family and friends.
Learn more about treatments for colon cancer ›
What can you do if any of the risks for colorectal cancer apply to you? The best thing you can do is to make changes in your life that will help you control as many of the risks as you can. Here are some choices you can make that may help.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day can reduce your risk for colorectal cancer. Regular moderate exercise, such as fast walking and climbing stairs, will lower your risk. Intense physical activity, such as running or aerobics, for longer periods of time may provide even more protection. This is true even if you start exercising later in life. Here are some ways doctors think exercise helps protect you:
Learn more about living with colon cancer ›