BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Last week we discussed on Health Alert that March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month and that UHC has an inflatable colon exhibit on March 8 and 9. Now, we are going to discuss colon cancer signs, risks and options.
Joining us is Victor Singzon, M.D., UHC Family Medicine and faculty, to talk about colon cancer and the special exhibit that will be at UHC on March 8 and 9.
Question: So doctor, let’s get started by asking who is at risk for colon cancer?
Answer: Everyone is at risk for colon cancer. Your risk increases as you age. Regular colon cancer testing saves lives!
Your risk increases if:
• You are age 50 years or older
• Polyps have been found in your colon before
• You have had cancer in the past
• A parent, sibling, or child has had colon cancer
• You smoke
• You have Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, or Lynch Syndrome
Question: Tell us, what are the signs of colon cancer?
Answer: Let me preface that signs could include (however the following signs are not always the case):
• Blood in your stool (bright red or very dark)
• Stool is thinner than usual
• Feeling that the bowl does not empty completely
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Feeling more tired than usual
• Losing weight for no reason
• Nausea and vomiting
• Frequent gas pains, cramping, or feeling full or bloated
Question: How can one lower their risk of colon cancer?
• Eat a healthy diet
• Lose or maintain a healthy weight
• Limit alcohol
• Do not smoke
• Get tested for colon cancer
Question: So what are the testing options?
Answer: It is important to get tested even when you feel healthy.
You do have testing options:
• Fecal Immunochemical Test—(Often referred to as the FIT test)—This is a take-home test completed once a year. The test looks for blood in the stool which may be a sign of cancer. There are no diet or medication restrictions with this test. A positive FIT test must be followed up with a colonoscopy.
• FIT-DNA Test—This is a stool test mailed to you and done at home. This test is sent to a lab to check for cancer cells. It is done once every three years. With the FIT-DNA test, there are no diet or medication restrictions. A positive FIT-DNA test must be followed up with a colonoscopy.
• Colonoscopy—This is probably the most common and familiar. A colonoscopy uses a long lighted tube to look inside the entire colon for polyps and cancer. Polyps can be removed at the test. A colonoscopy is done at the hospital. Bowel cleansing and diet and medication restrictions are necessary. If no precancer polyps or cancer are found, the test is done every 10 years.
For more information, please contact UHC Family Medicine at 681-342-3600.