Prevention Itâ€™s never too early or too late to make prevention a priority. Good lifestyle choices reduce your cancer risk and improve your chances of leading a long and healthy life. Please follow these good prevention habits: UĂŠ Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. UĂŠ Choose foods containing whole grains rather than reďŹ ned grains. UĂŠ Avoid processed foods such as cereals, crackers, chips, and cookies. UĂŠ Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day if you are a woman, or two drinks if you are a man. Less alcohol, less often would be even better. UĂŠ Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week. UĂŠ Limit your time spent sitting and lying down to watch TV, playing electronic devices, etc. UĂŠ Maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise. UĂŠ Do not use tobacco in any form.
Screening Colorectal screening tests are performed to determine the presence of abnormal or cancerous cells in the colon, which appear as polyps. If you have no family history of colon cancer, no symptoms, and no other factors that put you at a higher risk, screenings are generally recommended to begin at age 50. The exact test or tests performed varies from one patient to the next. Each procedure has pros and cons; talk with your doctor about the options before making your decision. Colonoscopies, the screening that most Americans are familiar with, involve a direct colon and rectum exam while the patient is sedated. If the screening detects polyps, they can be removed during the procedure. Removal prevents cancer from developing in many patients, and helps many more ďŹ nd the cancer early, when it is most treatable.
During [a colonoscopy] polyps can not only be found, but also removed.
Also, once you reach age 50â€”or sooner if you experience the symptoms noted below or at are high-riskâ€”ask your physician about your colon cancer screening options. A colonoscopy is one of several options available, and it is the only screening method during which polyps can be removed. Therefore, it can help prevent benign polyps from becoming malignant polyps. High-risk patients may also be presented with additional prevention measures. If you are in this category, consult with your doctor to make the right choices for you. Symptoms Some people with colon cancer experience no or minor symptoms, some ignore or misinterpret the symptoms, and still others have warning signs that indicate something is signiďŹ cantly wrong. Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms, and be prepared to describe the onset, frequency, and severity of: UĂŠ Changes in bowel habits, such as prolonged diarrhea or constipation UĂŠ Blood in your stool or in the toilet UĂŠ Dark (even black) stool UĂŠ Changes in the shape of your stool UĂŠ Bleeding from your rectum UĂŠ Lower stomach cramps or discomfort UĂŠ Constant urge to have a bowel movement, without relief after you have one UĂŠ Unexplained weight loss Keep in mind that any of these symptoms could have other causes, ranging from minor to serious. Regardless of the cause, early detection puts you in the best position to respond and recover.
If your screening does not detect polyps or other problems, you generally can wait another 5â€“10 years before your next screening, depending on which test is performed. Colonoscopies, for instance, are typically performed every 10 years, assuming the previous test found no polyps and the patient has no symptoms. New and reďŹ ned screenings for colon cancer are on the horizon. Colon cancer to page 31
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Please contact: Suzanne M. Scheller, Esq. Scheller Legal Solutions LLC 6312 113th Place North Champlin, MN 55316
www.schellerlegalsolutions.com MARCH 2016 MINNESOTA HEALTH CARE NEWS