Weekly Wellness: Colorectal cancer symptoms to know
COLUMBIA - It’s not the most pleasant topic – colorectal cancer.
This is the cancer that affects the colon (large intestine) and the rectum (which connects the colon to the anus). One of the scariest statistics that I learned recently is that colorectal cancer cases are increasing sharply among twenty- and thirtysomethings. It’s no longer limited to the 50 + crowd. While nearly 90% of all colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 50, the numbers in the 20 – 39 year old age group has increased between 1 – 2.4% annually since the mid-80’s.
Colorectal cancers are the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 95,500 cases of colon cancer and 40,000 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Researchers are particulary concerned about rectal cancer due to the fast-rising incidence rate among younger people. Experts are unsure as to why colorectal cancer is occurring in younger people. There are theories regarding obesity, environmental factors, lifestyle factors, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, and diabetes.
Symptoms to pay attention to are:
- Frequent bleeding with bowel movements
- Change in bowel habits
- Constant bloating
- Constant gas
- Thin, “ribbonlike” stools
- Low energy
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing these symptoms, don’t panic! This list of symptoms is also applicable to many other diagnoses. But if you are concerned, see your physician.