Why you should listen to your gut

Credit: Darryl Leja, NHGRI, NIH.

To prevent colon cancer, you need to be aware of your digestive system and its daily cycle.

There are several possible early symptoms that people should pay attention:

  • A change in the diameter of your bowel movements
  • Blood in your bowel movements
  • Black Stools
  • Persistent lower abdominal pain or discomfort

If you notice signs that persist more than a week, contact your physician.

Many conditions can cause digestive symptoms, but if it is cancer and you catch it early, you’ll have a better prognosis.

Even you don’t have the above symptoms, you should be tested for colon cancer when you are 50. Several options for colon cancer testing are available.

One option is having a full colonoscopy. The method has the advantage of preventing cancer by removing polyps during the procedure before they can grow to become cancerous.

Another option is doing a stool test, or FIT (fecal immunochemical test). This method also is an effective screening tool if done annually.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new blood-based test for colon cancer.

This may be an option for average-risk patients who do not currently undergo screening, but colonoscopy and FIT are still the preferred screening tests.

No matter which tests you choose, it’s important to know your health history.

Therefore, people of any age with a family history of colon cancer should talk with their physician about their risk.

This is especially important for those with relatives who were diagnosed under the age of 50.

To summarize, you should ‘listen to your gut’ because it is important to your health.

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