Preventing Colon Cancer

If there is one form of cancer that people are most reluctant to talk about, it’s likely colorectal cancer. But whether it’s an unpleasant thing to discuss, like any other form of cancer, the key to battling it is early detection.

“I think a lot of people who have never had a colonoscopy have a misconception about the procedure and are reluctant to have it done,” says Jayme Riegler, marketing manager for Virginia Oncology Associates. “My job is to educate people that it’s not that bad and that screening is the key to success. Getting people to realize how important this is literally saves lives.”

Virginia Oncology Associates has 11 locations in the Coastal Virginia area, including Chesapeake, Elizabeth City, Franklin, Hampton, Kitty Hawk, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. They don’t perform colonoscopies, but they do treat patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. Their dedicated, highly skilled physicians and staff specialize in caring for patients with cancer and blood disorders and provide the most innovative, advanced therapies and latest technologies to formulate treatment plans. They also have a counselor who can test for hereditary factors that can make an individual more likely to develop cancer.

Most colorectal caners begin as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. This growth is called a polyp. Some types of polyps can evolve into cancer, but not all polyps change. With regular screening, most polyps can be found and removed before they transform into cancer.

Colonoscopy screening is recommended for people who do not have a hereditary predisposition or increased risk of cancer starting at age 50. People with higher risk factors should start screening earlier. Your family doctor can provide you with additional information and set up a colonoscopy appointment for you.

In addition to regular screening, there are several things you can do to possibly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer:

-Avoiding obesity and weight gain around the midsection
-Increasing the intensity and amount of physical activity you get
-Limiting your intake of red and processed meats
-Eating more vegetables and fruits
-Getting the recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D
-Avoiding excess alcohol consumption
-Eliminating the use of tobacco products

Colorectal cancer symptoms depend on the size and location of the cancer. Some commonly experienced symptoms include changes in bowel habits (how often you have to go), changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool, sudden anemia (shortage of red blood cells), sudden weight loss, unexplained vomiting and abdominal discomfort or pain.

Don’t wait for warning signs to get screened, especially if you have a family history of any kind of cancer. Survival rate is extremely high for those who detect problems in their earliest form.

If you are diagnosed with cancer, Virginia Oncology Associates specializes in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treatment, depending on the stage of the cancer or how far it has spread. 

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