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Men's Health

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Rectal & Colon Cancer in Men

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How Can I Prevent Colorectal Cancer?

The good news is that colorectal cancer is usually preventable. The number one way to prevent it is to get screened. Men and women should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50. If you have colorectal cancer in your family or other risk factors, tell your doctor. You may need screening at a younger age.

Several screening methods are proven to reduce colorectal cancer rates:

  • Colonoscopy: You've probably heard of this procedure, which entails the insertion of a flexible tube into your anus, while you are under anesthesia. Your gastroenterologist (stomach doctor) can usually see and remove polyps or cancer before it spreads. If your colon is "clean," you probably won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: This scaled-down version of a colonoscopy is another reasonable option that looks at the lower colon and rectum.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test: This involves you smearing stool on a paper card and bringing it to your doctor each year. Your gift is then checked for blood, because colorectal cancers often bleed. Blood in your stool usually earns you a colonoscopy, to look for cancer.

A 2006 study showed that men were more likely to develop polyps and cancer earlier than women. Therefore, early screening may be even more important for men's health.

Some of the other things men can do today to start lowering colorectal cancer risk are:

  • Eating like a hunter-gatherer, not a caveman. Cut back on the red meat, like burgers and steaks. Instead, fill up on more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. These changes alone could reduce your risk by about 50%.
  • Getting off the couch. Active men get less colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 30 minutes of activity five days a week.
  • Quitting smoking and limit drinking. Keep alcohol to one or two drinks a day.

What Are the Treatments for Colorectal Cancer?

The right colorectal cancer treatment is based on the degree of spreading, or stage:

  • Cancer that is self-contained inside a polyp can often be cured with a colonoscopy. A snare on the end of the colonoscope cuts the entire cancer out.
  • If colorectal cancer has spread into the bowel wall, surgery is needed. Part or all of the colon is removed (hemicolectomy or colectomy).
  • Once the cancer has spread into the body, treatment becomes more complex. It will usually involve chemotherapy or other targeted colorectal cancer treatments. See for treatment information.

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