You haven’t taken a day off from work in six months. Life gets so busy that you put your health on the back burner. But not getting health screenings — like a colonoscopy — puts your life at risk. You should get your first colonoscopy at age 50 and—if you are low risk—repeat the exam every five to 10 years.
“The use of screening colonoscopy and the removal of polyps during the procedure have been shown to not only reduce deaths form colon cancer but also can prevent the development of such cancers,” said Gordon France, Jr., MD, Gastroenterologist for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
Dr. France specializes in gastroenterology and internal medicine and practices at Medical Group of the Carolinas—Gastroenterology—Spartanburg.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include
- A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Factors that put you at risk for colorectal cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis
- (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
- Lack of regular physical activity
- Low fruit and vegetable intake
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Alcohol consumption
- Tobacco use
When to see a doctor
If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer, such as blood in your stool or a persistent change in bowel habits, make an appointment with your primary care physician. Talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening for colon cancer.
For screening information, please call 1-855-DNA-GIBBS. You can also donate to RegionalFoundation.com to help provide a colon cancer screening to someone in need in the community.