Community Blog

Colorectal Cancer Screenings Can Ease Concerns for Seniors

By Debbie Humphrey

“I volunteer with the Colon Cancer Alliance because my mother died of colon cancer at 42 years old. I am now 42 years old and it saddens me to think that if it hadn’t been for my mother’s death, I too might have colon cancer. I’ve had two colonoscopies that have resulted in the removal of polyps. Both times, the polyps were benign, but had I not gotten them taken care of, they could have become cancerous, because I would not have had an exam until later on in life.“ Jasmin Mejia

“This year my husband and I will be celebrating our 50thwedding anniversary. We have a son and a daughter, five grandchildren and a cairn terrier, Max, who pretty much runs things around our house. I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer when I was 58.” Patsy Berry

These two, true stories of real women featured on the Colorectal Cancer Alliance website, perfectly depict the importance of colorectal screenings, as a proactive measure to prevent and detect colorectal cancer. As discretionary a matter as gastrointestinal topics tend to be, I would be remiss if I did not recognize March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and emphasize the importance of colorectal cancer screenings for seniors.

These are recommended that adults ages 50 and over, because 90% of all diagnosed cases occur after the age of 50. It is best to discuss your particular risk factors with your primary care provider and follow their recommendations for colon cancer tests that can, potentially, save your life.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death among seniors in the United States, with more than 135,000, new cases diagnosed in 2017. Unfortunately, more than 50,000 sufferers of this nasty cancer died last year, too.

The Florida Department of Health defines colorectal cancer as a disease in the large intestine, or colon; and the rectum, which is the connective passage to the anus. Colorectal cancer occurs when polyps appear in these areas and go untreated. Polyps can take years to grow, which is one reason they are most readily found in people over the age of 50. However, colorectal cancer does not discriminate. Younger folks can also be diagnosed with the disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for colorectal cancer include age; a personal or family history of the disease; Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other inflammatory syndromes and maladies affecting the bowels; poor nutrition and diets high in fat, lacking fiber; a sedentary lifestyle; diabetes; obesity; smoking; and radiation therapy for cancer.

Sometimes there are no symptoms preceding the onset of polyps and the progression of colon cancer. However, there are symptoms about which you should be aware, including rectal bleeding or blood in the stool; abdominal pain and cramping; a change in the consistency of stool for a prolonged period of time; a feeling that the bowel will not quite empty all the way; weakness and fatigue; or an unexplained loss of weight. 

A variety of screenings are available, so it is best to discuss these options with your doctor or primary care provider. In addition, lifestyle changes can aid in the prevention of polyps and colon cancer, such as stopping smoking; exercising more; reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption; making dietary changes to include more fiber, fruits, veggies and nuts; and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you or a someone you love suffers from colorectal cancer, is undergoing cancer treatments; or there is anything my team can do to assist in transporting to doctor appointments for colonoscopies or other colorectal cancer screenings for seniors; prepare healthy, nutritious meals; or offer further support and assistance, call me today at 727-942-2539 for a FREE consultation and learn more about the many services we offer.

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539

Sources:

Florida Health
APlaceforMom
Mayo Clinic
Colorectal Cancer Alliance