≡ Menu

Colo-Rectal Cancer: Knowing The Signs Can Save Your Life

Bowel cancer is one of the deadliest, most insidious and painful forms of cancer. Of course all cancer is potentially deadly, and all is insidious, but bowel cancer is particularly

English: Line drawing showing a permanent colo...

Line drawing showing a permanent colostomy for rectal cancer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

onerous because of the toll it takes on you not only directly, but indirectly by not allowing you to process the food that you’ve eaten, or in severe cases, make it difficult to eat at all.

Bowel cancer is a catch-all term for cancer that occurs in either the large or small intestine. It’s also called colo-rectal cancer, though technically that term is applicable only to cancer that occurs in the large intestine.

What’s particularly insidious about bowel cancer (other than the toll it take on you as mentioned above), is that it’s largely a-symptomatic. You can have it for years without knowing it, and even if you have regular colo-rectal screenings, you it still might go undiscovered.

That said, there’s a few things to look out for. If you feel logy, or fatigued frequently, that is something to note. Also, blood in your stool is another symptom to look out for. In the case of bowel cancer, it will be bright, red blood actually on your stool, rather than a darker blood. Ugh – horrible to ponder, but if you want to be safe, you should check periodically.

Another potential symptom is rapid weight loss, which usually stems from a lack of appetite. There’s also the potential for unexplained fevers, and a change in the shape and particularly diameter of your stools.

Everyone is at risk for bowel cancer, but the number one group at risk are people over fifty years old. Unlike testicular cancer, for example, bowel cancer is not found primarily or even largely amongst young, healthy people.

This argues for a logical approach to your diet: Fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of fiber, and avoiding the likes of beef, ham and the like on a regular basis are a good place to start. Everything that you eat travels through your bowels eventually, so it stands to reason that what you’re putting into your mouth will have some bearing on your intestines. It’s been shown in long-term studies that people who’ve had a higher percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables – especially leafy greens like spinach and lettuce – are less susceptible to bowel cancer later in life than are folks who didn’t have a good amount of the above.

So rest assured that prevention starts now. Order the salad instead of the fries, and the fish instead of the steak. You won’t regret it down the road.