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Colorectal cancer tests are essential
Health advice
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You may have seen or read in the news lately about stage III colon-cancer survivor Tom Davenport's upcoming two-and a-half month skiing expedition to and from the South Pole to raise money and awareness for colon cancer research. In November, Davenport and four others from Canada, Kiwi, Australia and Finland will begin a 730-mile long, 10,000-foot elevation, skiing expedition. When they reach the South Pole, Davenport and his group will switch from cross-country to downhill skis, unfurl a large kite and sail back to where they began. The expedition should be completed by mid-January.
Davenport was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 and after a year of tests, surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, he gradually got better. Davenport realized there was no time like the present to pursue his dream of skiing and kiting to and from the South Pole. "Hopefully, this 'adventure of a lifetime' will make people check in with their doctors to determine their risk of colon cancer," Davenport said.
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women. An estimated 112,00 new cases of colon cancer and 41,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnozed this year.
Colon cancer forms in the tissues of the colon with most being diagnosed as adenocarcinomas, which means the cancer began in cells that make and release mucus and fluids in the bowel. Rectal cancer forms in the tissues of the rectum, which is the last l6 inches of the intestine. They're referred to as colorectal cancers.
Most colorectal cancers start with a benign adenomatous polyps. And while most intestional polyps are harmless, some can become cancers over a period of time. As with most cancers, the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown.
Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include age (older than 50), a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions, inherited disorders that affect the colon, family history of colon cancer and colon polyps, a low-fiber diet high in fat and calories and a sedentary lifestyle.
In many cases, colorectal cancer does not have any symptoms in the early stages and cancer is usually found through screening tests. When symptoms occur they may be changes in your bowel patterns, bleeding from your rectum or blood in your stool, feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty fully, persistent cramping, gas, bloating, a feeling of fullness, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or weakness
Adults aged 50 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer and adults who are at high risk should begin screening earlier than 50. Several effective screening tests are available including cards that test for blood in the stool, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Ask your doctor when you should start screening and which test is right for you.
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