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Colon Cancer Protection

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Joan Lunden

Health / / September 28, 2008

Every nine minutes a life is lost to colorectal cancer. In fact, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, more than 148,000 new cases were diagnosed.

While many people may consider colorectal cancer an embarrassing topic of conversation, this is one talk that could save a life. In fact, when caught early, colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Talking with a doctor about colorectal cancer screening is essential to prevention and early detection, as well as to making informed treatment decisions.

Colorectal cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Having diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  • Finding your stools are narrower than usual 
  • Frequently having gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
  • Losing weight with no known reason
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Having nausea or vomiting

These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. If you have any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. Only your doctor can determine why you're having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.

With regular screening, colorectal cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a chance at a longer life—generally, five-year survival rates for colorectal cancer are lower the further advanced the disease is at detection.

The Colon Cancer Alliance and Amgen asked me to partner with them for “Conversations about Colorectal Cancer,” a series of seminars focused on providing support and educational resources for colorectal cancer patients and their caregivers. The seminar series, first launched in late 2006, is made possible by an educational donation from Amgen.

In 2008, “Conversations about Colorectal Cancer” will travel to several cities across the country allowing attendees to hear from thought-leading physicians on the latest treatment advances. The events are free and provide patients and caregivers the opportunity to share their experiences and support one another in their battle against colorectal cancer in an interactive forum.

The fight against colorectal cancer often leaves patients feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the choices they have to make around treatment options. “’Conversations about Colorectal Cancer’ is an opportunity for patients to find community with other patients, and to interact with doctors who are at the cutting edge of care for this disease. I am thrilled at having the opportunity to be a part of these life-changing events.

Take care of diabetes.

If you have diabetes, regular exercise, weight control, a low-fat diet and regular doctor visits are important. If you need to take medicine for diabetes, be sure to take it exactly as your doctor tells you to.

Be aware of chest pain.

Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heart attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.

Know your family history.

Having a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65, are factors that contribute to heart disease. Inform your doctor about your family history.

Source: American Heart Association

Categories: Health
About The Author
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Joan Lunden truly exemplifies today’s modern working woman. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities, this mom of seven continues to do it all. As host of Good Morning America for nearly two decades, Lunden brought insight to top issues for millions of Americans each day. The longest running host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 4 presidents and 5 Olympics and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, their families and themselves.

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