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Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Scientific data indicates that screening to detect and remove precancerous polyps is the most important thing you can do to prevent colorectal cancer. In addition, says Kelsey-Seybold Gastroenterology specialist Sheela Chandra, MD, there are a few easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer. These healthy choices could also help reduce your risk of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
Here's what you can do to prevent colorectal cancer:
- Get moving. Even a small amount of daily exercise – a 20-minute walk – can make a big difference in your overall health.
- Minimize alcohol consumption.
- If you smoke, stop. If you don't smoke, don't start.
- Eat healthy. A low-fat diet, high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, may help.
- Talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin, baby aspirin or aspirin-like drug, and calcium supplements.
- Know your risk factors.
- Talk to your family doctor about colorectal cancer and screening tests.
- Get screened. If you have any symptoms of colorectal cancer, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, or if you are a man or woman age 45 or older, schedule a visit with your family doctor as soon as possible. Insurance will generally cover any procedure your doctor uses to diagnose the problem.
"There are a lot of exciting, new developments on the horizon," notes Dr. Chandra. "Over the past two decades, scientists have learned that a series of changes in the cells' DNA can cause normal cells to become malignant. Some people are born with these mutations in their cells. Someday, we may have a simple blood test which will allow us to detect the hereditary predisposition to developing colorectal cancer. There are also relatively new, noninvasive screening options, such as ‘virtual colonoscopy,’ but it’s too soon to say how effective they are."
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