Lifestyle recommendations and screening tests

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Preventive measures can go a long way in reducing the risk of colon cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. While you may not be able to prevent certain risk factors like age and family history, lifestyle measures and early detection can help.

Lifestyle measures that target diet, exercise, and weight can reduce your risk of colon cancer:

  1. Eat more plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  2. Eat less red and processed meat, such as steak, ground beef, meat for lunch, and hot dogs.
  3. If you smoke, try to quit.
  4. Reduce or avoid alcohol consumption.
  5. Maintain your weight. Excess body fat – especially around the abdomen – can increase the risk of colon cancer.
  6. Get daily physical activity. Regular exercise can help you control your weight and lower your risk of cancer.

Because of the aggressive nature of colon cancer, early detection tests are done before signs and symptoms can develop.

Colon cancer screening using traditional colonoscopy is usually recommended every 10 years from the age of 45. However, your doctor may recommend testing earlier and more frequently if you are at higher risk.

Discuss the following screening options with your doctor to determine which method is best for you.