Colon Cancer Prevention Tips

This diagram shows the location of the stomach, small intestine, cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum.
Illustration by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Colorectal cancer is one of the more common cancers in the US, and when it is detected early, it is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. Today, about one-third of at-risk adults have not taken steps to ensure their cancer can be caught before it’s in advanced stages. Here are some tips from the gastrointestinal team at MUSC Health to help protect you.

Know the risk factors - Some factors can’t be changed and may increase your risk of colon cancer. These include:

  • Age: Colon cancer becomes more common after 50
  • Race: African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races
  • A history of polyps, which are clumps of cells in the colon that can turn into cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps
  • An inherited condition, such as Lynch syndrome that can lead to cancer

Lead a healthy lifestyle – There are some risk factors for colon cancer that people can change. Remember to:

  • Eat a nutritious diet, high in fiber
  • Stay active
  • Watch your weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption

Know the symptoms – Many people with colon cancer often experience no symptoms in the earlier stages, but here are some of the most common:

  • Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation or changes in consistency of your stool
  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort: Cramps, gas, feeling full, bloated or feeling like your bowel does not empty completely
  • Rectal bleeding: Either bright red or dark blood in your stool
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Losing weight for no known reason, nausea or vomiting

Get Screened - Screening is the number 1 way you can prevent colon cancer and rectal cancer. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are also highly treatable and preventable if caught early. Everyone should get screened at some point in their life. The only questions are when, using what method and how often. The answers lie in several factors, including your age and family history. To schedule your screening, please call 843-792-6982.