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March is colorectal cancer awareness month

The ball is in your court to take action to reduce your risk for this preventable cancer. Colorectal cancer begins in either the colon or rectum. According to the American Cancer Society, it is one of the top five most common cancers in the United States – and it is the third leading cause of death by cancer in Americans. Colorectal cancer often goes undetected because symptoms do not usually occur until the disease is advanced.

Because the risk for colorectal cancer increases after age 50, health experts recommend regular screenings for adults age 50 and older. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, certain gastroenterological conditions or diseases, eat a diet high in fat content, or smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

For more information on colonoscopies from the first appointment through the procedure and follow-up, register for the upcoming health talk “Take Control of Your Health: The Colonoscopy” starting at12:15 p.m. on March 29 inside Siloam Springs Regional Hospital’s Classroom 1. To register for this free event and luncheon, call (479) 215-3125 today.

Biggest lead

Though symptoms do not typically appear until the later stages of the cancer, it’s important to know the potential signs, which include:

  • • Blood in stool
  • • Constipation or diarrhea
  • • Feeling full or bloated
  • • Narrow stools
  • • Persistent stomach aches, cramps or pain
  • • Sensation that the bowel is not fully emptied
  • • Unexplained weight loss

There are various methods for screening for colorectal cancer, including:

  • • Colonoscopy – a test in which any existing polyps, or growths, are detected and removed
  • • Fecal occult blood test – a test that can be completed at home that screens for blood in the stool
  • • Sigmoidoscopy – a test similar to a colonoscopy that examines the lower section of the colon

2-for-1 play

You can help heighten your community’s knowledge of colorectal cancer by:

  •  Encouraging loved ones, coworkers and acquaintances to be screened
  •  Hosting a community event that recognizes colorectal cancer
  •  Posting about colorectal cancer awareness month on social media outlets
  •  Sharing recipes or conducting a cooking demonstration with low-fat foods

Though colorectal cancer is a leading cause of death among Americans, by raising awareness and advocating screenings, we can save lives.

Colorful foods for colorectal health

A healthy diet can do wonders for your colon health. Some dietary modifications that may help prevent or even treat colon cancer include:

  •  Avoiding processed/cured meats
  •  Consuming colorful fruits and veggies
  •  Cutting out saturated fat
  •  Eating foods high in dietary fiber
  •  Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids
  •  Limiting your salt intake
  •  Reducing alcohol consumption
  •  Restricting the amount of red meat you eat

Eating foods high in fiber – both soluble and insoluble – is a great way to clean out your colon and prevent the development of colorectal cancer.

Jack D. Alston, M.D., FACS, and Patrick Schiefelbein, D.O., are general surgeons at Surgical Associates of Siloam Springs. They perform a variety of surgical services including laparoscopy, biopsy, colonoscopy and more, and both are Members of the Siloam Springs Regional Hospital Medical Staff.