Jan. 14–Philly soul giant Teddy Pendergrass lost his long battle with colon cancer yesterday. The unmistakable voice behind such R&B classics as “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” and “Love T.K.O.” had been in the hospital since last summer.
Colon cancer afflicts more than 105,000 Americans each year, and, together with rectal cancer, constitutes the second most-common deadly cancer in the United States. Knowing how to avoid developing colon cancer and how to recognize its symptoms so it can be treated quickly are essential.
Here is what you should know about colon cancer.
Q: What are the risk factors for colon cancer?
A: African American men older than 50 and who are obese have the highest risk for developing colon cancer. Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use, diabetes, a low-fiber and high-fat diet, inflammatory bowel disease and a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer.
Q: What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
A: A fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health notes that some colon cancers produce no symptoms. If any of the following problems persist for long periods or recur often, however, you should speak with your doctor about the possibility of colon cancer or some other chronic bowel disorder:
- Pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Bloody stools
- Severe and unexplained diarrhea or constipation
- Narrow stools
- Unexplained anemia
- Sudden and unintentional weight loss
Q: How is colon cancer treated?
A: Treating all types of colon cancer involves surgery. This can range from minimally invasive procedures to remove small cancerous growths to the removal of sections of the intestines or other affected organs. Patients with later-stage and more-widespread cancers may benefit from radiation treatments and chemotherapy.
Q: How can colon cancer be prevented?
A: Eating more fiber, exercising regularly, drinking alcohol only in moderation and not smoking can reduce your risk for developing colon cancer. Getting screened for the disease is also important for all people as they get older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “If everyone aged 50 or older had regular screening tests and all precancerous polyps were removed, as many as 90 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.” Tests for colon cancer include digital rectal exams, stool blood tests and colonoscopies.
Also see Pancreatic Cancer: What You Should Know