When it comes to talking with loved ones, sometimes the most important conversations are also the most difficult. This can be especially true when discussing colon cancer. The details surrounding this disease aren’t fun, and they can even be downright uncomfortable. But when you consider that colon cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in the United States despite being one of the most preventable and treatable cancers, the importance of these discussions becomes obvious.
Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, sibling or spouse, chances are there is someone near and dear to you who needs to be better informed about colon cancer. Education is the key to prevention, and you could be the one to share a life-saving piece of information with someone very close to your heart. The following are some topics that should be discussed:
Colonoscopies are the gold standard in colon cancer screening because they allow your doctor to identify and remove any colon polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous. Adults of average risk should receive a baseline colon screening at the age of 50. African Americans, who have the highest risk of colon cancer incidence and mortality, should be screened at 45. Individuals who have a personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps may need to be screened at age 40 or even earlier.
Family history plays a strong role in your risk of developing colon cancer. One particular study found that having a biological parent with cancer places you at 80 to 100 percent higher risk of developing that same type of cancer. Being aware of your family’s colon cancer history can help you and other family members make informed decisions about the right time to begin colon cancer screening.
Leading a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in preventing the development of colon cancer. Some important lifestyle behaviors include:
- Following a low-fat, high fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins
- Limiting intake of red meats and processed meats
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol
- Not smoking
Talking about colon cancer is never fun, but if it saves the life of a loved one, it’s well worth it. So brew a pot of coffee, work past your nervousness and set aside some time to have this very important chat with someone you care about. It could be the most important conversation you’ll ever have.