Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. More than 150,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it. That's why it's important to learn about colon cancer - its symptoms, risk factors, and how to reduce your chances of developing it. In this article, we will discuss all of that and more.
What Is Colon Cancer, And What Are The Symptoms?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine (colon and rectum). The colon is a long, tube-like organ in the digestive system. It absorbs water and nutrients from food and stores waste material until it leaves the body as stool.
Most colon cancers start as small, noncancerous (benign) tumors called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps can become colon cancers.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer may include:
- changes in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a change in the consistency or caliber of your stool
- rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- abdominal pain
- a feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
- unexplained weight loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see your doctor so they can determine the cause.
How Is Colon Cancer Diagnosed And Treated?
Your doctor will likely start with a colonoscopy, a procedure to look at the inside of the colon and rectum using a long, flexible camera. If they find any abnormalities, they will biopsy them (take a small sample) to determine if they are cancerous.
If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, your treatment will depend on the cancer stage. The stage is determined by how far cancer has spread from where it started in the colon.
Treatment for colon cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. You may also be treated with immunotherapy.
What are the risk factors for colon cancer, and how can you reduce your risk of developing it?
There are several risk factors for colon cancer, including:
- age: colon cancer is most common in people over the age of 45
- family history: if you have a close relative with colon cancer, you're at increased risk
- personal history: if you've had colon cancer or certain types of polyps before, you're at increased risk
- lifestyle: smoking, being overweight or obese, and eating a diet high in red or processed meats can all increase your risk
You can reduce your colon cancer risk by making healthy lifestyle choices and getting screened for colon cancer.
Healthy lifestyle choices include:
- not smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- exercising regularly
- eating a healthy diet that's high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red or processed meats
If you're over the age of 45, you should get screened for colon cancer. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into colon cancer. There are several different colon cancer screening tests, including colonoscopy, stool tests, and CT colonography. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
How Can You Cope With A Diagnosis Of Colon Cancer, And Where Can You Find Support?
It can be a lot to cope with if you're diagnosed with colon cancer. You may have a lot of questions and concerns. It's important to find a support system to help you through this time. Several organizations offer support for people with colon cancer, including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the Colon Cancer Alliance. You can also find support groups online or in your community. These groups can provide you with information and emotional support from other people going through the same thing.
What Is The Prognosis For People With Colon Cancer?
The prognosis for colon cancer depends on the stage of cancer. The earlier it's caught, the better the prognosis. The five-year survival rate for people with stage I colon cancer is 90%, while the five-year survival rate for stage IV colon cancer is only 14%.