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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. If everybody who is 50 or older underwent regular screening tests, at least a third of deaths would not have to happen.

Of course, you need to know symptoms to look out for: blood in your stool, a change in bowel habits; in many instances they become narrower than normal and when the stools become narrower, it’s a sign that there’s some constriction. Perhaps you’re losing weight and you don’t know why. Many people who have colon cancer have aches or cramps in the stomach that happen a lot and you’re not sure why they are happening.

Again, these are all symptoms of other problems as well, but they’re worth looking into because they could represent colon cancer.

When it comes to colon cancer the earlier we detect it the better.

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