Colon Cancer & Seniors

In this blog, we will learn more about colon cancer in seniors, including symptoms, risk factors, screenings, and what lifestyle changes can be made to help prevent it.
Colon Cancer & Seniors

The risk of developing colon cancer increases as people get older. The average age for seniors being diagnosed with the illness is 66 for men and 69 for women. In this blog, we will learn more about colon cancer in seniors, including symptoms, risk factors, screenings, and what lifestyle changes can be made to help prevent it.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a growth of malignant cells that form in a portion of the large intestine. It often starts as noncancerous polyps, but develops into cancer later. In many seniors, colon cancer grows slowly over a number of years, and it can go undetected for extended periods of time.

The Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Seniors

Symptoms of the disease can vary, depending upon its size and location in the large intestine. Here are some of the more common symptoms of colon cancer.

  • A sudden change in bathroom habits, including chronic diarrhea or constipation.
  • Blood in the stool, or rectal bleeding.
  • Sudden discomfort in the abdominal area, including pain, cramping, or gas.
  • A feeling of not being able to empty the bowel while using the washroom.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors for Seniors

There are a number of risk factors for developing colon cancer for older people, including:

  • Reaching the age of 50 or older.
  • Race – African Americans have shown to be at greater risk for colon cancer.
  • A history of polyps.
  • Having an Inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis, or Chron’s disease.
  • Family history of cancer.
  • Having a diet high in fat, but low in fiber.
  • Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Diabetes.

The Importance of Colon Cancer Screenings for Seniors

Seniors who are between the ages of 50 to 75 should be screened for colon cancer as often as recommended by their doctors. The frequency of screening tests will be based on family history, age, and other health related, or lifestyle factors.

Screening tools include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and fecal blood tests. However, evidence shows that the need for testing decreases as people reach the age of 75. By 85 and older, doctors usually do not perform screenings on patients.

Helping Seniors Lessen the Risk of Colon Cancer

Here are some great tips for helping seniors reduce their chances of developing colon cancer.

Dietary Fiber

Maintaining a diet rich in fiber is a good way to lessen the risk of colon cancer. Whether it be through fruits, beans, lentils, or certain vegetables, fiber is an important part of a healthy diet.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Obesity is often linked to a number of cancers, including colon cancer. Researchers today believe that excessive body fat can alter hormone levels, which may play a part in the development of cancer.

Chicken, Fish & Meat Free Meals

People who eat lean meats, such as chicken and fish are less likely to develop colon cancer, as compared to those who consume large amounts of red meat. In addition, protein sources such as beans, and nuts are great alternatives to help promote colon health.

Smoking

Most people associate smoking with lung cancer, but research has shown that it can cause a variety of other diseases such as cancer of the colon. Chemicals in cigarettes affect all parts of the body, and can damage our DNA, leading to cancer.

Exercise

The benefits of exercise for the body have been known for decades, but it can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Exercise helps the body digest food faster, which can help prevent inflammation and other chronic bowel diseases.

Helping Seniors Stay Healthy

Everyone at Frontier Senior Living is committed to helping our residents stay as healthy as possible. Whether it be through healthy dining options, access to exercise, meaningful activities, or education about healthy lifestyle choices, we want them to enjoy their senior years to the fullest.

If you would like to learn more about our many services, we invite you to visit one of our beautiful communities, take a tour, and speak with our wonderful staff.

Find a community near you
that perfectly fits your needs.

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