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colon cancer: symptoms, treatment, best foods for prevention

Learn what the best foods are to prevent colon cancer. What the symptoms are, what the tests involve, colon cancer treatments, and what specialist treats colon cancer. Plus get some laughs with this entertaining video about the colon by Dr. Mache Seibel!

How Does Colon Cancer Start?

Starts in the large intestine (the colon)

• Begins as a non-cancerous bump called a polyp

• Polyps can turn into cancer over time

• People can’t feel if they have a polyp


• Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

• When symptoms appear, they'll likely vary, depending on the cancer's size and location in your large intestine.

• A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of 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


• Colon cancer genetic testing is a blood test that looks for the changed (mutated) genes that cause colon cancer.

• Although not everyone with the gene gets colon cancer, genetic testing helps to show if you have inherited a high risk of getting colon cancer.

How often should you get a colonoscopy?

• Most people should get a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years after they turn 50.

• You may need to get one every 5 years after you turn 60 if your risk of cancer increases.

• Once you turn 75 (or 80, in some cases), doctors may give you approval to no longer get a colonoscopy (if you’ve consistently had no signs of colon cancer).

However, since each person has different medical history, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

Cologuard is intended to screen adults 45 years of age and older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer by detecting certain DNA markers and blood in the stool.

• Do not use if you have had adenomas, have inflammatory bowel disease and certain hereditary syndromes, or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer.

• Cologuard is not a replacement for colonoscopy in high-risk patients.

What is a Cologuard Test?

• Cologuard in use since 2014, is a noninvasive colon cancer screening test for people 45 years of age and older who are at average risk for colon cancer.

• Cologuard is a screening test that uses a stool sample to detect colorectal cancer and precancer.

• In a clinical study of 10,000 participants ages 50-84 years old, of average risk for colorectal cancer, Cologuard found 92% of cancer.

• However false-positive results increase with age. A positive or negative result should not confirm your cancer status. You need to discuss the results with your doctor.

Colon Cancer Survival Rate

• Overall, 5-year survival rate for people is 64%.

• If the cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage, the survival rate is 91%.

• If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 72%.


• Treatment for colon cancer usually involves surgery to remove the cancer.

• Other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, might also be recommended.

Best Foods to Prevent Colon Cancer

• According to Web MD, “Some studies say that people who eat right, exercise, stay a healthy weight, and keep alcohol to a minimum may cut their odds of the disease by more than a third.”

• Research published in JAMA Oncology suggests that a diet high in sources of fiber may improve survival rates for patients with stage one colorectal cancer. Eating whole grains was also linked to a better treatment outcome, the researchers noted.


Dairy: Studies suggest calcium-rich dairy makes you less likely to get colon cancer.

Beans: They have compounds called flavonoids, which can keep tumors from growing, as well as certain antioxidants that may help protect you from colon cancer.

Whole Grains: They keep your stools moving, and along the way, they may grab onto cancer-causing compounds in your colon. Aim for 90 grams of whole grains daily -- oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice are good options.

Colorful Fruits and Veggies: Studies linking fruits and veggies to preventing colon cancer have been mixed, but cancer organizations recommend them. Your best bets include broccoli, cabbage, and vitamin-C rich fruits like oranges.

What Type of Doctor Should I See?

• Gastroenterologist: the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver.

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