How Can I Avoid Getting Colon Cancer?

Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 12:55 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I have two close relatives (father and grandmother) who have both had colon cancer. What can I do to lower my risk?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
 
Your risk of colon cancer might influence your doctor’s recommendations on screening tests for colon cancer. For example, your doctor will advise colonoscopy at frequent intervals is indicated since you have a strong family history of the disease. People with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening earlier than the recommended 50 years of age.
 
Colonoscopy is generally considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening. Polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during the exam. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken as well. Commit to a screening schedule based on your personal risk factors. The earlier colon cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.
 
Including a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, avoiding red meats, drinking alcohol in moderation, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight also help in lowering the risk. Some evidence suggests that persons at high risk may benefit from taking larger doses of aspirin for longer periods of time. Ibuprofen (such as Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (such as Aleve), and Celecoxib (Celebrex) may also reduce risk. You should discuss these options with your doctor.

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