This post is primarily for men. But, if you’re a woman, and there’s a man in your life that can benefit from the information here, by all means, please read on and share what you’re learned!
Let me cut to the chase – if you’re 50 or over, and haven’t yet had a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer…get off your butt (pun intended) this instant and make an appointment!
Let’s review some of the facts, according to the “Colorectal Facts and Figures : 2014-2016” paper published by the American Cancer Society:
Now, let’s posit for a moment that you’re younger than 50, and thus aren’t in the group yet for which regular checkups are necessary. If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you should immediately check with your doctor:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Seriously, guys (and gals)…if you have any of these symptoms, go see a doctor. They can also be related to many other things like infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, each of which needs to be treated in it’s own right. Don’t pull the man card and disregard the symptoms…think about your family and go in and get it done!
Let’s take a few moments and talk about some risk factors for colorectal cancer, as outlined by the American Cancer Society. If any of these fit you…well, I think you get the idea by now:
- More than 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are 50 years or older
- A diet that is high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats) can increase colorectal cancer risk
- If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer
- If you are very overweight, your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is increased
- Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer
- Colorectal cancer has been linked to the heavy use of alcohol
- If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas) in the colon or rectum, you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer
- If you have IBD (Inflammatory Bowl Disease), your risk of developing colorectal cancer is increased, and you may need to be screened for colorectal cancer more frequently
- If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, or several other types of cancers or syndromes, there is an increased risk
So, what happens if you blow all this off and throw the proverbial dart? Well, you might have the following to deal with in your life:
- Surgery – you may have your entire colon and rectum removed, or maybe just part of it
- Colostomy – you may have your small intestine attached externally to your abdomen, requiring an ostomy bag. This could be temporary or permanent, depending on your situation.
- Chemotherapy : you might have to endure a rigorous routine of injecting super poisonous drugs in your body to combat residual cancer cells
- Radiation : you might have targeted radiation therapy to treat colorectal or associated cancers
- Other : there are a few other things that are on the fringes, like targeted therapy, that might be called for, and are situation dependent
Dudes, let’s be straight up about this. You have a life, work, possibly a family, and keeping yourself healthy is important to all that. Yeah, the possibility of having to deal with the above stuff stinks, but it is possible to detect things early enough that you can have a positive impact on the outcome. If you’re predisposed to potential colorectal cancer because of something like Ulcerative Colitis, like was in my case, then it’s even more important that you have regular colonoscopies. My cancer grew super quick…from almost nothing to a 6 cm tumor in about 7 months…so getting screened is not something to dally on! Think it can’t happen to you? I have a friend, about 47 years old, who had no reason to think he had colon cancer. After all, he was below the 50 year mark, and was generally healthy. But then he started seeing blood in his bowel movements, and decided to have it checked out. The diagnosis was colon cancer. He was fortunately able to be treated with a colon resection (just removing part of the colon) and some chemo, but the point is that, had he not decided to have it checked out, it could have been much worse.
Get screened…do it now for yourself, your family, and for God. Make the call now and get it done!