Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 23 men will develop colon cancer at some point in their lives. The good news? The overall colon cancer diagnosis has decreased over the past 50 years, mostly due to more screening and people making lifestyle changes that prevent colon cancer (more on that later).
If you’re worried about your risk of colon cancer, keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of colon cancer in men. We’ll also tell you how to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine (otherwise known as the colon). It mostly occurs in older adults, though people of any age can develop colon cancer.
Colon cancer usually begins as polyps, which are small clusters of benign cells in the colon. These polyps can sometimes (but not always) develop into cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Men?
Many symptoms could be early symptoms of colon cancer in men. However, they can be symptoms of other diseases or infections. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
1. Changes in Bowel Habits
We’ve all experienced temporary bowel changes from stomach bugs and making not-so-great dietary choices. Usually, these changes (like constipation and diarrhea) resolve independently after a few days. But persistent constipation or diarrhea warrants a trip to the doctor.
2. Cramps and Bloating
Unexplained cramps or bloating can have many causes and are usually not indicative of cancer, but they are considered a symptom of colon cancer in men.
3. Feeling Like You Have to Go (Even When You Don’t)
As colon cancer progresses, it can turn into a blockage in the colon. This can make people feel like they must go to the bathroom, even when they’ve already gone.
4. Blood in Bowel Movements
Blood in the stool can be a symptom of colon cancer in men, but it can also indicate other issues like hemorrhoids. If you are experiencing this symptom, talk to a doctor.
5. Unintentional Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss (like losing 10 pounds or more over a year) could be a symptom of colon cancer in men.
Chronic fatigue or weakness is another symptom of colon cancer in men.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer if you are experiencing these symptoms of colon cancer in men. Many less severe illnesses can cause common symptoms of colon cancer in men. But if you experience these symptoms for a week or more, it’s best to talk to your doctor.
When Should I Be Tested for Colon Cancer?
On the other hand, some people with colon cancer may experience no symptoms at all. That’s why regular screening is so important. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with an average risk of colon cancer should begin regular screenings at the age of 45. But if colon cancer runs in your family, you may want to start sooner.
How Can I Prevent Colon Cancer?
Certain risk factors may increase your chances of developing colon cancer. You can control some factors, like weight and diet. Other factors, like age and family history, can’t be changed.
Here are some risk factors that you can take control of:
Being overweight or obese. Excess body weight increases your likelihood of developing colon cancer. While the exact mechanism isn’t known, it’s thought that being overweight could increase cancer risk by affecting inflammation in the body and hormones.
Not being physically active. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise helps decrease your likelihood of developing colon cancer.
Eating processed meats. Eating processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meats raises your risk of developing colon cancer. The same goes for red meat from animals raised on a traditional grain diet. Grass-fed beef as well as other wild game is fine.
Interested in learning about meat sweats? Learn more from Opt Health!
Heavy alcohol use. Drinking alcohol is linked with many types of cancer, including colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends abstaining from alcohol completely. If you do choose to drink, limit your intake to no more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
Smoking. You don’t need us to tell you that smoking is bad for you. Men who have smoked for a long time are more likely to develop colon cancer. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting smoking.
If you need help mitigating any of these risk factors, contact us. Opt Health specializes in longevity medicine, which means that we work to identify and change risk factors for developing many types of age-related diseases, including cancer, dementia, heart disease, and diabetes. Through our unique treatment programs, our doctors will measure your current risk factors and develop a personalized strategy to help you reach your health goals. Contact us today for a free consultation.