What is colon cancer?
It is the presence of malignant cells inside the colon. Most of them begin as polyps, which are usually benign but can become cancerous over the years.
It is the third most common cancer in men, after that of prostate and lung, and the second most common in women after breast cancer. In addition, it is the leading cause of cancer death if both sexes are considered together.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
It does not usually produce symptoms until it is in an advanced stage. It usually appears from 50 years of age on.
When there are symptoms, they are variable and non-specific, but the most frequent are:
- Change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain
How is the early diagnosis of colon cancer made?
Several tests are available for early diagnosis. One or another will be used depending on the age and medical history of each person.
- Conventional colonoscopy. It is done under sedation.
- Virtual colonoscopy - is like a 3D colon scanner. If a polyp is detected then a conventional colonoscopy should be performed.
- Fecal occult blood test. If the test is positive, then a colonoscopy should be performed.
The early diagnosis tests should be carried out on the entire population from the age of 50 on. Those with a family history of polyps or colon cancer should be tested after the age of 40.
How can I prevent colon cancer?
It is very simple, through a healthy diet and lifestyle habits.
1. Food rich in fiber (whole grains, fruit, vegetables)
2. Drink at least 2 liters of water a day
3. A diet low in saturated fats and animal proteins
4. Avoid refined sugar and stimulants
5. Respect meal times and avoid overeating
6. Consume alcohol in moderation and avoid beverages of high alcohol content
7. Don’t smoke
8. Do physical exercise daily
9. Avoid stress
10. Get enough sleep