Colorectal cancer is a very common form of cancer in the United States. It affects both men and women, and it impacts people of all races and backgrounds. But as common as colorectal cancer is, there are still quite a few misconceptions floating around about it. This article will clear a few of them up.
Misconception: Colon cancer deaths are increasing in the United States
Colon cancer is a big problem, and it does kill thousands of people every year. But the good news is that in spite of what you might have heard, the death rate due to colon cancer is actually decreasing in the U.S. There are likely a couple of reasons for this. First of all, colon cancer screening has improved, which means that more cases of colon cancer are detected early when they are easier to treat. Second of all, colon cancer treatment has improved, meaning that more people survive after diagnosis. Therefore, you need to get screened for colon cancer. If you do have it, then the sooner you find out, the better.
Misconception: You can't control your risk of colon cancer
Although people often say this about colon cancer, it is not true. There is a lot you can do to decrease your risk. Some of the key risk factors for colon cancer are a lack of physical activity, obesity, eating too much red meat, and smoking. Those are all factors you are able to control.
There are some non-modifiable risk factors for colon cancer, including age and family history. But these risk factors are no guarantee that you will develop colon cancer. If you do what you can to modify your modifiable risk factors, then you will greatly reduce your risk.
Misconception: You will know you have colon cancer because you will have symptoms
Eventually, patients with colon cancer do develop symptoms, which include blood in the feces, abdominal pain, and straining during defecation. However, by the time colon cancer becomes symptomatic, it is often quite serious. Colon cancer screening protocols can detect colon cancer before it causes any symptoms, at which point it is easier to treat. So, do not wait to be screened for colon cancer until you notice symptoms; then, it may be too late.
With those misconceptions about colon cancer cleared up, you should be better prepared to be screened for it and to manage your risk factors over time