The best way to prevent bowel cancer is to have a screening colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the colon and to remove any polyps that might turn into cancer.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening test that lets your doctor see the inner lining of the large intestine (colon). The screening is not painful and can take less than an hour to do. A colonoscopy is useful, because it helps your doctor diagnose a range of colon problems that include:
- Polyps (growth that can turn into cancer)
When Should I Have a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopies can prevent cancer or stop it from developing. Regular screenings are recommended for men and women starting at age 50. But some people may need to get their screenings earlier. They include:
- African Americans
- People who have a close relative with cancer
- Patients with IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease
- People with certain genetic syndromes
Talk to your provider about the best time to schedule a colonoscopy.
Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of getting colon cancer. They include:
- Eating lots of red meat (beef, pork, lamb), processed meats (deli foods) and fatty foods
- Heavy alcohol use (eight or more drinks per week for women; 15 or more drinks weekly for men)
- Not getting enough exercise or physical activity
Talk to your provider about getting help to quit or change activities that are affecting your health and putting you at a higher risk for cancer.