ATLANTA – Some cancers have early warning signs
You may have a change in your blood, a spot on your skin, a knot in your chest.
But Piedmont Healthcare of Atlanta Colon Cancer Surgeon Ibrahim Adamu says colon cancer may not be so obvious, especially early.
"Colon cancer, for the most part, you do not see any warning signs because you're growing in a tunnel," Dr. Adamu and refers to the long intestine.
Dr. Adamu says that as the cancer grows, it can cause changes in your bowel habits, sometimes bleeding.
"What we often see is that people complain that they are bloated, they feel they have to go to the bathroom." Adamu says. "They go to the bathroom, and after coming out a few minutes later, they feel they have not really emptied."
Watch for these changes, especially when you say Adam or Adam 50.
Our risk of developing colon cancer increases with age. People with a close relative who had colon cancer, African Americans, and people with inflammatory bowel disease are also at an increased risk of developing colon cancer. And there are other red flags.
"If someone feels definitely weak, loses their appetite, they lose weight, they make blood, and they have low levels of hemoglobin, which should give you a warning sign."
DR. Adamu says the best way to detect colorectal cancer is through a colonoscopy.
Experts recommend that most of us start screening at 50, earlier if we have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Dr. Adamu worries that many people are protecting themselves from being screened out of fear.
"I think most people are worried about what to find," he says. "Most people are worried that they will find something, we all tell them that most screenings are ultimately negative, and the vast majority that screen for colorectal cancer has a negative test."
If you have colon cancer and it is detected early, dr. Adamu says you have a great chance of getting cancer. 90 percent of people with early stage colon cancer still live 5 years after their diagnosis.
"Colorectal cancer does not mean that you will die," says dr. Adamu. "In fact, most colorectal cancers are treatable, and the vast majority of colorectal cancers you can find are curable."
So, what can you do to lower your risk of developing colon cancer? First, Dr. Adamu, let's examine you. Talk to your doctor about when to get checked and how often you need a colonoscopy.
Next, he says, try eating more fruits and vegetables to increase the amount of fiber you eat back on red meat and alcohol. If you smoke, stop, says Adamu.
Finally, try to get more exercise and get a healthier weight if you are overweight.
All these things, Dr. Adamu, can take a very long time to keep you healthy.