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How Much Do You Really Know About Colon Cancer?

Jul 24, 2019

Cancer in all its forms continues to be one of the most dangerous and difficult diseases that a person can succumb to. The potentially fatal risk of getting cancer means that the best way to stop it is by getting treatment as fast as possible. The only way to get treatment right away is to recognize the signs and symptoms early and speak with a doctor. 

Colon cancer is a common form of cancer which is unsurprisingly found in the colon (large intestine. Colon cancer is one which tends to start small and quietly grow, not allowing people to recognize it’s there until the cancer is at full strength. Unlike some cancers, colon cancer can be screened for and doctors are more than willing to perform regular checks to ensure it’s not growing. Read on to learn more about colon cancer and how to avoid becoming a victim of it! 

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

While colon cancer can be found in a person of any age, it’s still far more common in people who are over the age of 50. In addition to age, there are other conditions or factors which can suggest that a person may be susceptible to colon cancer. 

There are several conditions like colitis, Crohn’s disease and diabetes which are red flags when it comes to colon cancer risk. People who have had non cancerous colon polyps in the past are also at risk. Many inherited conditions and syndromes apply as well. Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. 

In addition to medical issues, there are plenty of lifestyle issues. Sedentary and obese people are more likely to get colon cancer. So are people who choose to smoke. People who don’t eat a diet without fiber that is high in fat are more likely to get colon cancer as well. Heavy alcohol use is also a risk factor. 

Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

When trying to determine if you may be suffering from colon cancer, there are several symptoms that you may see. Symptoms are often very minimal to start, then they start to get worse over time. It can also depend on where the cancer is located along the colon. Symptoms to look for include: 

  • Weight Loss - This is unexplained and unexpected weight loss. 
  • Bleeding - Some people suffer from rectal bleeding, or find a large amount of blood in their stool. 
  • Fatigue - In addition to feeling fatigued, people can have a sense of feeling physically weak. 
  • Bowel Changes - This is one of the most common issues that can occur. People will see a strong and persistent change in regular bowel movements. This can be consistent diarrhea or it can be heavy constipation. It’s also possible that stools will drastically change consistency. 
  • Abdominal Discomfort - This can consist of persistent gas, unexpected cramps or simple pain in the abdominal region. 

Getting Colon Cancer Treated

The best form of treatment for colon cancer is prevention. People should get regular screenings after the age of 50. If you have a family history, then starting the screenings early is a good idea. Living a healthy lifestyle helps reduce risk. This means eating a proper diet with plenty of fiber, avoid alcohol and stop smoking. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. 

If preventative measures fail, then treatment is the next step. Surgeries exist for both early and late stage cancers. Early stage surgeries focus on attempting to remove all of the cancerous region or any polyps in the colon are removed. More serious cases can require the removal of part of the colon. 

In addition to surgery, there are a variety of other options which can be used. Chemotherapy uses a variety of drugs to specifically attack cancer cells. This option usually comes after surgery. Radiation therapy uses external radiation directed at the cancerous region. There is also targeted drug therapy. These focus on the effects of cancerous cells and is usually combined with chemotherapy or other treatment. Immunotherapy is a treatment which attempts to boost the body’s immune system to respond and fight the cancer itself. No matter the treatment, the goal is to shrink and remove any form of cancerous cells from the body.

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