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Seniors and Colon Cancer - What You Need to Know

Feb 28, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

Colon Cancer is the second deadliest cancer in our country, killing almost 50,000 people every year.

This is depressing, especially given that colon cancer is actually fairly preventable compared to other cancers! Why don’t people try harder, then?

Screenings

Physicians across the country assume that because of the seemingly invasive or “gross” nature of colon cancer screenings that many people delay them or completely skip them altogether.

Another culprit may be age. Seniors aren’t generally screened for colorectal cancer like younger folks, even though a time to stop regular screenings was never tested or even specified. It’s important for all adults of ages to continue getting screened the entirety of their lives.

If anything, because colorectal cancer is so common and deadly for seniors, screenings should be increased in the elderly.

If you have a family history of colon cancer or are experiencing symptoms, regardless of your age, the earlier the screening (and consistently after that), the better. This is also true if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, or other digestive conditions. If you smoke, you’re at double the risk of this form of cancer, so get screened earlier, as well. Otherwise, it’s recommended that people begin getting screened at age 50.

Types of screenings include:

  • Colonoscopy, which is the most comprehensive screening, and not as invasive as people think
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT), a non-invasive test to measure for traces of blood in your stool
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, a less invasive procedure than a colonoscopy that removes any polyps or worrisome buildups in the colon tissue

Treatments

Treatments for this kind of cancer are the same as every other form: radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.

If colon cancer is caught in the early stages (stage 1 or 2), surgery is usually so effective so as to rid of the cancer completely. Otherwise, treatment will differ, along with its effectiveness.

Always remember, the best form of treatment is actually prevention! And colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, if it is caught and taken care of early on.

Other forms of prevention include:

  • Diet high in fiber from fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly
  • Staying hydrated
  • Limiting red meat intake

Be sure to stay healthy and get screened as you’re supposed to in hopes of avoiding this condition altogether.

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