What causes colorectal cancer? Doctors don’t know for sure, but some of the risk factors that could increase your colon cancer include alcohol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, high-fat and low-fibre diet, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and older age (50 and above).
While colorectal cancer is life threatening, most people would not experience any symptom in the early stages. When symptoms start appearing, they will vary depending on the cancer’s location and size in your large intestine. Watch out for these six major colorectal cancer symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss If you’ve been eating normally and are not on a diet, it’d be a suspicious thing to experience weight loss. Unless you’re suffering from something, make sure there’s a reason as to why you’re losing weight.
- Weakness or fatigue Leading an active lifestyle may leave you feeling tired, but not in an extreme way that you could barely move. If you’re experiencing weakness or fatigue frequently and for no apparent reason, check with a doctor.
- Incomplete evacuation during bowel movement When you defecate, it should completely empty your bowel. Find out why if you’ve a feeling that your bowel isn’t emptied properly.
- Abdominal discomforts that regularly persist, such as pain, gas or cramps It’s not normal to experience frequent abdominal discomforts such as pain, gas or cramps. Don’t be alarmed if you have them once in a while, but if it’s happening too often (like every week), visit a doctor.
- Blood in your stool or rectal bleeding If you notice rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, consult a doctor immediately.
- A change in your bowel habits This includes constipation or diarrhoea. If there’s a consistent change in your stool that lasts more than four weeks, talk to a doctor.
According to the medical guideline, 50 is the best age to start a colon cancer screening. However, you can always start early before you reach 50. Consult with your doctor as to when to start screening for the disease. If colon cancer runs in your family, it’s best that you do earlier or more frequent screening.
In the meantime, you can prevent colorectal cancer by consuming a multivitamin that contains Folate, getting a sufficient dose of Vitamin D and Calcium, limiting red meat (particularly processed meat), drinking moderately (alcohol consumption is limited to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men), being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.