March is colon cancer awareness month. As a colon cancer survivor, Sen. Johnny Nugent, R-Lawrenceburg, wants to fellow Hoosiers protect themselves and their families from this terrible disease.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death among all types of cancers. It affects men and women equally, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the United States. In 2010, nearly 132,000 people were diagnosed and, unfortunately, 50,000 people die from it every year.
In February 2000, former President Bill Clinton officially dedicated March as colon cancer awareness month. Since then, Americans have shown their support by wearing blue and holding educational seminars to spread awareness of the disease.
Due to the lack of early detection, 10 percent of the 10,000 Hoosiers who were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008 passed away. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing and recognizing the warning signs of this and other cancers.
Below are some major risk factors associated with colon cancer:
*Age — nine out of 10 people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than age 50
*Personal history of intestinal polyps
*Personal history of bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
*Family history of colon cancer or polyps
*Smoking or use of other tobacco products
*Obesity and lack of exercise
*Early detection of colon cancer can be the key to survival. It is important for both men and women to get screened regularly, especially after the age of 50.
According to the CDC, there are numerous tests that can be performed to screen for the disease. The most common test to detect colon cancer is a colonoscopy, and it’s recommended that people get one every 10 years. It’s also recommended that people get a blood and stool test every year during their yearly physical.
There are some symptoms to watch out for, that can alert you if something is wrong:
*Persistent stomach pain
*Unexplainable weight loss
*Weakness or fatigue (usually from blood loss)
*Blood in the stool
Awareness of colon and other cancers can save lives. If caught and treated early, cancer can be stopped. Listen to your body and if you believe something is wrong, I encourage you to visit your doctor.
For additional information on colon cancer, please visit www.cancer.org.