onstrated that 8% of those who had Crohn’s disease for 30 years developed colorectal cancer, while only 3% developed the cancer for those who had Crohn’s for only ten years.
How to lower colon cancer risk if you have Crohn’s disease
Having Crohn’s disease does not automatically result in colorectal cancer, but preventative measures should be done if you want to lower your risk.
- Work closely with your gastroenterologist
Since there is no known cure for Crohn’s disease, it is the inflammation that should be managed. Your gastroenterologist will provide you with a routine surveillance, including routine visits to manage treatment plans and regular screening exams.
Take your medications regularly as prescribed by your doctor to manage your inflammation. Controlling the inflammation avoids the constant damage and repair processes that lead to developing cancer.
- Keep up with your health screenings
Colon cancer is most treatable when detected early. One study involving 7,000 patients with inflammatory bowel disorder showed that those who had a colonoscopy within the past three years had a lower chance of developing colorectal cancer. This research also found that regular colonoscopies of 6 months to 3 years before being diagnosed with cancer reduced mortality among patients.
Early detection can be done through regular colonoscopies, which may be done every one to two years. Most people should start the screening between the age of 45 to 50 years old. For individuals with a family history of colon cancer, the testing should begin at a much younger age, especially because of increased colon cancer cases among young adults.
During the procedure, the doctor looks inside the entire length of the colon and rectum to find any abnormalities, including cancerous cells at an early stage and even precancerous tissues.
Based on your health history, your doctor may recommend specific screening procedures or tests. Other tests that may be used in detecting colon cancer include sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test, and DNA stool test.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or frequent bowel
- Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
- Narrow stools
- Persistent abdominal pain and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
If you observe a number of these symptoms, keep a list of them and discuss this with your gastroenterologist during your visit.
- Reduce other risks
Reducing other colorectal risk factors encompassing your lifestyle and habits is also necessary. These include:
- Being physically active: In general, A sedentary lifestyle likely results in weight gain and increased chances of contracting cancer. As simple as a 30 to 45-minute walk per day already boosts your immune system.
- Keeping your weight in a healthy range: According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), people who are obese have 30% more chances of developing colorectal cancer than people with normal weight. Furthermore, this relationship between BMI and colon and rectal cancers is observed more in men than women.
- Choosing a healthy diet: If you have Crohn’s disease or another inflammatory bowel disorder, your diet should consist of a group of food that prevents further inflammation of your colon and rectum. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, in your diet. Also, avoid consuming red and processed meats such as pork, steak, and hamburger, as they are found to increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
- Avoiding smoking and limiting your alcohol intake: In general, long-term smokers have a much higher probability of succumbing to colorectal or other cancer types than non-smokers. The same goes for drinking alcohol. The ACS recommends one to two drinks per day only, where a single drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
To know more about other ways to reduce the risks of colon cancer, check our previous article called 10 Colon Cancer Prevention Tips From Top Cancer Researchers.