According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States. Statistically, when compared with all others, black men and women have the highest rate of getting colorectal cancer. Furthermore, both black men and women suffer the highest death toll from this specific form of cancer.
Colorectal cancer begins in your rectum in the form of an abnormal growth called a polyp. While not initially dangerous, over time this polyp can become cancerous. Here’s what black women, men, and basically everyone should know about colorectal cancer.
With consistently high rates of colon cancer, one can wonder why incidences of colorectal cancer appear more in the black community than any other? Socioeconomic status, knowledge about this specific cancer, and diet affect this community from this form of cancer. Additionally, black men and women are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer at an advanced stage. Dispelling the stigma around a colonoscopy test can empower people to get tested early and often to prevent colon cancer.
Regular Screenings Can Be a Lifesaver
Since the black community is at higher risk for getting colon cancer and dying from it, experts recommend that black men and women get tested before the recommended age of 50. “The Journal of the National Cancer Institute” reports that people born in 1990 have double the risk of getting colon cancer than those born in 1950. This means that everyone should be checking for colorectal cancer symptoms early.
Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:
- Dark blood in your bowel movements
- Constant constipation and/or diarrhea
- Painful stomach cramps
- You have pencil thin bowel movements
Depending on what stage of the cancer you’re at, treatments can differ. If the cancer is localized and hasn’t spread yet, doctors can surgically remove the polyp. Some patients also receive chemotherapy to completely remove the cancer. If the cancer has progressed beyond the colon, more aggressive surgeries are performed.
Lifestyle Changes For a Better Future
The best way to prevent colon cancer is to lead a healthy lifestyle. The American Cancer Society says that eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with regular exercise, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight reduce your risk of getting colon cancer dramatically. Not only do these lifestyle changes reduce your risk of getting colon cancer, but they reduce your risk of getting other types of cancers and diseases.