Colon cancer: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Mar 24, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 12:34 pm




SALT LAKE CITY – According to 2024 data from the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is at the top of the list of cancer deaths among people under 55. It is now number one in men and number two in women.

In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, Maria Shilaos spoke with Allison Sabin, a physician assistant at Utah Gastroenterology, to learn the warning signs of colon cancer and the importance of getting a screening.

“Currently, from the American Cancer Society, they’re saying the lifetime risk for colon cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. Overall, it’s now the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women combined,” Sabin said.

Although the exact cause of this increase is uncertain, Sabin says there are certain factors that contribute to that risk. These include obesity, diets that are higher in red meats, processed foods, smoking, and higher alcohol.

If you’re wondering if you have colon cancer, look out for changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and unintentional weight loss. However, you can still be diagnosed with it without the symptoms. That’s why Sabin says everyone should get a screening at some point in their life.

“If you are the average-risk person… you should start doing colon cancer screening at age 45, for men and women. Certain people who have higher risk… should talk to their physician about maybe getting screening earlier. Some people start around age 40, or even 10 years before the diagnosis of a family member,” Sabin said.

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Colon cancer: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment