I’m not sure if you know, but March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. What does this mean for chronic kidney disease patients?
No one knows for sure, just yet, but medical studies over the last few years have been working to find a connection between CKD and colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer (depending on where the cancer starts).
There has been some evidence that suggests colon cancer is greater in chronic kidney disease populations, especially in patients that have had a kidney transplant and now have a longer life expectancy.
Also, a study done in 2005 indicates that diabetes increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Since diabetes is one of the leading causes of CKD, it is no wonder the two medical conditions may go hand-in-hand!
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in the United States. Every year, over 50,000 people die from this medical condition, and about 140,000 more cases are diagnosed.
Age plays a large part in colorectal cancer. 90% of patients with colorectal cancer are over the age of 50. Symptoms that may determine you have the cancer include bloody stool, stomach pain or cramps that will not go away, and weight loss with no known cause.
How to Protect your Colon
Colon cancer prevention is very similar to what helps to reduce your chronic kidney disease. In order to reduce your risk of colon cancer, it is recommended that you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Be physically active
- Avoid smoking
- Heavily moderate your alcohol consumption
There are many screenings your doctor can perform to check for abnormalities in your colon. Early detection of this cancer is best in order to beat it.
One of the most common is the colonoscopy, which involves inserting a long, tubular instrument through the rectum and large intestine to examine the walls of the colon.
While it is important to get a colonoscopy every 10 years to keep a check on your colon health, you must know the risks of the screening on your chronic kidney disease.
How to Protect your Kidneys During a Colon Screening
To prepare your body for the colonoscopy or other screening, you must use a bowel-cleansing product. This is so your doctor can have a clear view during the screening.
While most bowel cleansing products used before the procedure are safe, there are some that the FDA warns against for their potential effects on the kidneys. Products that contain sodium phosphate (OSP) are especially dangerous to those with CKD.
It has been found that the phosphate crystals can end up in the kidneys. These crystals are hard on healthy kidneys, causing acute phosphate neuropathy. Just imagine how much damage they could cause on the impaired kidneys of a CKD patient!
Always ensure your doctor knows about your kidney function prior to having a colonoscopy. You want to make sure you are given the right products to prep for the procedure without causing harm to your kidneys.
Also published on Medium.