By now, you probably know how deadly and awful cancer is. This almost incurable disease can come in many ways, shapes, and forms. And the worst part is that it can affect almost any part of your body, including your colon. After a certain age, it’s important that you do regular checkups to find if you have cancer or not. If detected early, you increase your chances of beating cancer.
This is what is known as screening, which basically means getting tested for a disease before you even feel any symptoms. Unfortunately, everyone’s different and you might need to start screening tests before most people. There are a number of factors to take into account, but here are some common signs that you might need to start early cancer screening tests.
7. Your Family History
Like diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer is also somewhat related to family history. You’ve probably already heard that someone got diabetes because his father has diabetes; the scenario is the same with colorectal cancer.
Mainly, these screening tests for colorectal cancers are performed every 10 years, but if any of your first-degree relatives was previously diagnosed with such cancers, you should start early screening tests.
Doctors advise that such patients should start the screening 10 years earlier than the age when their first-degree relative got their diagnosis. This initiative will help to cure the disease (if present) as these cancers are treatable if diagnosed earlier.
6. Genetic Variations
Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, is a genetic disorder that is one of the major causes of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer. You should have to be worried if you have Lynch syndrome because this genetic disorder causes about 5% of all colorectal cancers.
A rare yet more horrific genetic defect that causes colorectal cancer is familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). If developed, it increases the chances of colorectal cancer by 95%.
You might be surprised at how it causes cancer. If an adenoma is formed (and if it’s not removed), it then gets converted into a cancerous tumor, causing malignancy. If you or anybody related to you has either Lynch syndrome or FAP, you should screen yourself earlier. A common age to start is 40 years.
5. Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD, which encompasses both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a positive factor in producing cancer. Let’s break it down in simpler terms.
IBD is actually an inflammation of the colon and rectum. As more cells are produced and removed during this time period, there might be some miscalculations resulting in increased cell formation, causing cancer.
So, if you have chronic inflammatory bowel disease, it would be a great idea to start screenings for colorectal cancers as soon as possible. There is a piece of good news, though. Not all IBD leads to cancer, but the risk is still present.
The good practice is to start the screen as soon as possible. You can start during your adolescence or in your early 20s. But you should start as soon as possible, especially if someone else in your family has cancer of the colon and rectum.
4. Changes in Your Bowel Habits
3. The Presence of Adenomatous Polyps
In order to get familiar with polyps, you need to know what they are. This is a form of abnormal cell growth that is often small and non-cancerous. That being said, it can be problematic.
The problem is that some polyps, called adenomas, can turn into malignant polyps. The adenomas are mainly present in the colon and rectum.
They’re typically removed in the early stages to prevent cancer from growing and spreading throughout your body, but in some diseases or syndromes, even colon cancer can prevail without the formation of polyps. A clear example is Lynch syndrome.
So, if you or your first relatives have any sort of polyps, you should consider the screening early in your life to remain safe from these kinds of cancer.
2. Your Race Could Play a Big Part as Well
Believe it or not, a person’s race could play a big part in colorectal cancer, too. Unfortunately, the fact is that African-American people are more vulnerable to colorectal cancer. Here are some fact figures which reinforce this statement.
Cancer of the colon and rectum is the leading cause of death among African Americans. Moreover, black females have the highest number of deaths from colorectal cancer of any ethnic group in the world. And Black males have had an even higher mortality rate than females.
The actual cause is unknown, but it’s something you need to consider if you want to start screening tests earlier.
1. Your Nutrition and Smoking Habits
Eating red meat and processed food is the leading cause of colorectal cancer. In younger generations, the consumption of processed foods and meat has increased, which causes colorectal cancers and can cause other types of cancer. Nitrates and other chemicals used during food processing can cause genetic abnormalities resulting in cancers of the body.
Research has also shown that people who smoke also have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. You know, on top of lung cancer and other types of cancers in your throat and other parts of your body.
Moreover, women with other cancers like cervical cancer or ovarian cancers are also at a greater risk for developing colorectal cancer. If you are smoking persistently and eating more processed food, then you should consider changing your diet and start your screening test as soon as possible.