GI Health | Colon Cancer
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Symptoms and Treatment

Know the Facts on Colon and rectal Cancer

Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among American women and men. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that 103,170 new cases of colon cancer occur each year, and lists colon cancer as the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. They estimated that 1 out of every 20 people in the United States will develop colon cancer if no preventative measures are taken to prevent its development. You can take an active role in decreasing your chances of developing colon cancer by prevention and early detection through regular screening.

What is Colon Cancer?

A cancer of the large intestine, colon cancer forms from growths like polyps and tumors that occur along the wall of the intestine. Colon cancer is a slowly progressing disease, and if detected early, very treatable. Prevention is extremely important. 90% of people whose colorectal cancer is found at an early stage are healthy five years after the diagnosis. Colonoscopy with removal of precancerous colon polyps can prevent colon and rectal cancer from developing.

Who Gets Colon Cancer?

As is the case with most cancers, it is possible for anyone to develop colon cancer at some point in their life. However, certain people are at a greater risk of developing a colorectal cancer than others. Men and women have a similar risk of getting colon cancer. Among ethnic groups, African Americans tend to have an elevated risk of colon cancer.
Common risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnic background and race
  • Diets that are low in fiber and also high in fat
  • Obesity
  • High dietary intake of red meats and processed meats
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Family history of colon polyps and cancers, genetic factors

Healthy individuals with normal risk factors for colon cancer should have a colonoscopy, and have follow-up screenings based on the outcome of their exam. Anyone with a family history of colon cancer should begin screening 10 years prior to when the youngest relative was diagnosed, and should schedule more frequent future appointments. Also, patients of any age with symptoms such as blood in the stools, difficulty with bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), change in bowel habits, anemia or unexplained weight loss should seek consultation to determine whether a colonoscopy is necessary.

What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

There are various symptoms associated with colon cancer, including:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule a colonoscopy. Ideally, you want to detect colon cancer before these symptoms occur, as these symptoms may be indicative of a more advanced form of the disease. Regular colonoscopies are the best way to guard against colon cancer and promote good general colorectal health.

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If you have already visited Dr. Ari Nowain, you can get in touch with him at the Center for GI Health through Patient Fusion website. Here you can ask questions and be in direct contact with Dr. Ari Nowain!

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