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Signs, Symptoms, and Preventative Measures for Colon Cancer

After a brief battle with colon cancer, actress Kirstie Alley died at age 71. Here are some possible preventative measures you can take to prevent this battle.

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Crestwood Medical Center Gastroenterologist, Dr. Bradley Rice says, "1 in 23 men will be diagnosed with colon cancer. 1 in 25 women will be diagnosed with colon cancer."  

As far as screening is concerned, Dr. Rice says there are a lot of options.

"Colonoscopy like I said is the gold standard, and fit testing where we test the blood, for blood in the stool. But there's a lot of different options, but the key is screening."

And here is what you should know about the symptoms.

"A lot of people don't have any symptoms. But things like unintentional weight loss, change in bowel habits, bleeding, bleeding is a big one. So, if you see those symptoms that's something you need to get in and see your doctor right away." 

UAB Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Associate Professor, Dr. Karin Hardiman says only about 20% of patients who develop colorectal cancer have a family history.

"The good thing, if you could say that about colorectal cancer, is it has growth that occurs before it becomes cancer. And so, if we remove that growth, we actually can prevent colorectal cancer."

Dr. Hardiman says the big take home message is to remember that colon cancer is common, and screening is very important because if you catch it before it gets too far along, then, it's the most treatable.

"Certainly, I would encourage anyone who has symptoms like bleeding or change in bowel function to urgently get checked out because again, that is a case where often it is further along and is going to require more treatment. "

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