MEIGS COUNTY — Meigs County remains the highest in colon cancer deaths in the state of Ohio according to a recent report.
Norma Torres, chairperson of the Meigs County Cancer Initiative (MCCI), reports Meigs County is still highest in colon cancer deaths of the 88 Ohio counties. This is due to late or no preventive care such as colonoscopy. This type of cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable if it is found early enough through screening.
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, occurs in the colon (large intestine) or in the rectum. It usually develops slowly and is now the second leading cause of cancer deaths, in both men and women, in the United States. Before cancer develops, an abnormal growth (a polyp) may develop in the inner lining of the large intestine or rectum. Polyps are common and usually don’t cause symptoms. But, some are dangerous and can turn to cancer over time.
The American Cancer Society reports 1 in 3 Americans are not being screened; each year an estimated 150,000Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and an estimated 49,000 will die of it. That is why awareness is so important. There are several things that increase your risk of developing colon cancer. These are: being age 50 or older; having a family history of colon cancer; certain genetic changes; a diet rich in fat and red meat; heavy alcohol use; smoking; having diabetes; lack of exercise and being obese (25 pounds or more overweight).
In the early stages of colon cancer, there are usually no obvious symptoms. By the time the symptoms show themselves, the cancer may have advanced to a later stage. If you, or anyone you know, experience any of the following colon cancer symptoms, see your doctor immediately:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation lasting more than a few days;
- A feeling you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having it;
- Blood in your stool;
- Cramping or stomach pain that is not relieved;
- Weakness and fatigue;
- Unexplained weight loss
Screening should begin at age 50 unless there’s an earlier age of family history of colon cancer. Even if you have no symptoms, screening is worthwhile because it may: alert you to changes in your colon early enough to make a difference, find polyps, or find colon cancer early when it’s highly treatable.
Meigs Countian Wendell Jeffers has been a colon cancer survivor for several years now. He says, “I am so glad I did the best thing for me and my family; I went to a doctor for a check-up. When I shared the few symptoms I was having, he ordered a Colonoscopy. It found my colon cancer early enough for a good result. I used to be nervous just thinking about a colonscopy. Now I am living proof that it is a real life saver”.
Meigs County Cancer Initiative will meet the first Monday of April June, August and October at noon in the conference room of the Meigs County Health Department.
Information submitted by Norma Torres of the Meigs County Cancer Initiative.