Colorectal cancer, a disease that typically affects individuals over the age of 50, is unfortunately becoming more and more common among young adults. This is a worrying trend, considering that the disease can be difficult to detect during its earlier stages, when it often has no symptoms. However, knowing the risks and early signs of colorectal cancer is the first step in preventing and treating the disease.
The first step in understanding the risks and early signs of colorectal cancer is to understand what the disease is. Colorectal cancer occurs when cancer cells form in the colon or rectum. It typically starts as a polyp – a non-cancerous growth on the lining of the colon or rectum – and over time, those polyps can turn into cancer. There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer, and young adults need to be aware of them. These include a family history of colorectal cancer, a history of inflammatory bowel disease, a high-fat, low-fiber diet, and a sedentary lifestyle.
One of the most concerning things about colorectal cancer in young adults is that it often goes undetected because it doesn't present symptoms in the early stages. But there are some signs you can look out for, including abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, and unexplained weight loss. While these symptoms can have many causes, it's important to be aware of them and talk to your doctor if you experience them.
Prevention is key when it comes to colorectal cancer, and there are several lifestyle changes that young adults can make to reduce their risk of developing the disease. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat. It's also important to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Early detection is crucial when it comes to colorectal cancer, and young adults should be proactive about screening. Doctors usually recommend that individuals at average risk for colorectal cancer begin regular screening at age 50, but younger adults with risk factors may need to start earlier. Screening can include a colonoscopy, which is an exam that uses a flexible tube with a camera to visualize the colon and rectum. Other non-invasive tests, such as a faecal occult blood test or sigmoidoscopy, may be used as well.
Colorectal cancer is a serious disease that can affect young adults, and it's important to be aware of the risks and early signs. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, being proactive about screening, and talking to your doctor if you experience any symptoms, you can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and catch the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to colorectal cancer – so be informed and take action!