Lifestyle Recommendations and Screening Tests

Preventive measures can go a long way in reducing your risk of colorectal cancers, which are the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. While you can’t prevent certain risk factors such as age and family history, lifestyle measures and early screening can help.

Lifestyle measures that address diet, exercise, and weight may reduce your risk for colon cancer:

  1. Eat more plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  2. Eat less red and processed meats, such as steak, ground beef, lunch meats, 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 abdominal area — may increase your risk for colorectal cancers.
  6. Get daily physical activity. Regular exercise can help you manage your weight and also reduce the risk of cancer.

Due to the aggressive nature of colon cancer, screening tests are done before signs and symptoms may develop.

Colorectal cancer screening via traditional colonoscopy is typically recommended every 10 years starting at age 45. However, your doctor may recommend testing sooner — and more often — if you’re at higher risk.

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

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