Magazine article Ebony

Colon Cancer. (Health Hot Line)

Magazine article Ebony

Colon Cancer. (Health Hot Line)

Article excerpt

COLORECTAL cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, largely, experts say, because of our unwillingness to talk about the disease.

Although most commonly found in people age 50 or over, it's important to note that men and women are at equal risk for contracting the disease. And for African-Americans, the risks are even greater. Blacks accounted for approximately 14,000 diagnosed cases last year, and 6,800 African-Americans died from colon cancer in 2001, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society.

"African-Americans have the highest rate of colorectal cancer of all ethnic groups," says Dr. Durado Brooks, director of colon and cancer programs at the American Cancer Society's national home office in Atlanta. "We're No. 1 in a category we really don't want to be No. 1 in, and our risk of dying from the disease is markedly greater."

In the early stages, colon cancer doesn't present any symptoms. That's why regular screenings are essential. Doctors say you should be screened for colon cancer if you are over 50 years old, smoke, have a family or personal history of colon cancer or any other colon disease, and get little or no exercise and eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet. You also should be screened if you have the following symptoms: a persistent change in bowel habits, blood in the stool or bleeding from the rectum, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, tiredness or anemia. …

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