Why Men Need A Colorectal Cancer Screening

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer, with men being affected more than women. Regardless of how healthy a man feels, colon cancer can be a slow-growing health problem, if left undetected. An initial examination by a family practice physician may require more testing to confirm its presence. Learn what this deadly cancer is and how to recognize it before it cuts your life short.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

This is a special type of cancer that appears in the large intestine and the rectum. It begins as a small growth, or polyp, on the intestinal wall. The polyp grows very slowly with many remaining benign, causing no health issues. A few polyps may become malignant and turn into the cancer cells that can cause death.

The Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

The benign form of intestinal polyp does not produce symptoms, but the malignant form can produce symptoms that gradually get worse. They may include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation that slowly become worse
  • Blood in the stool
  • Dark black stools
  • Pain in the abdomen

Any changes in bowel habits should be looked at as the potential result of cancerous cells in the colon or rectum.

Causes of Colorectal Cancer

The precise cause of this cancer is not known, but there are several factors that influence whether a man is at risk for getting this deadly disease:

  • Age - 90 percent of the cancer cases show up after the age of 50, says the American Cancer Society
  • Family History - The presence of this cancer in family members increases the risk
  • Bowel Disease - Long-term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's or ulcerative colitis increases the risk

Certain lifestyle behaviors can contribute to the risk of colorectal cancer including:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High-cholesterol

Cancer Screening

The diagnosis of this cancer is through direct observation and sampling of the polyps. A colonoscopy is the insertion of a small, flexible tube into the rectum and up into the large intestine. The doctor can see the wall of the intestine and will look for existing polyps. A small device on the end of the tube allows the doctor to take small samples of the polyps for examination in the lab. This is the only way to determine if the polyps are benign or malignant.

Colorectal Cancer Treatment

The treatment is the removal of the polyps from the large intestine and rectum. If caught early, there will be few polyps that are easy to remove. In later stages, there will be many polyps and a portion of the intestine may have to be removed. Chemotherapy may also be recommended.

This deadly cancer can take years off of an otherwise healthy man's life. In a culture of "toughing things out", men may resist going to the doctor or a Green & Seidner Family Practice when mild changes in bowel habits appear. When changes occur, it's important to go in for a colon screening and catch the disease early. The best chance of stopping the spread of the cancer is early detection and treatment.