Colon cancer refers to a form of cancer that affects the main part of the large intestine, commonly called the colon. Sometimes, colon cancer is grouped together with the cancer that affects the other part of the large intestine, the rectum, and is known as colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer is a fairly common cancer. It affects both men and women and the risk of developing colon cancer increases in all after 50 years. Other risk factors for developing colon cancer include a family history of cancer or colon cancer specifically and a history of developing colorectal polyps or growths. People with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis also have an increased risk of colon cancer, as do those who smoke or eat diets high in fat and low in fiber, folate and calcium.
Detection and Prevention.
The best way to detect early colon cancer and prevent the development of a life-threatening cancer is to be screened for the disease. Screening is generally recommended for people over 50, although people at higher risk may need it earlier in life. Several tests can detect colon cancer, including a fecal occult blood test and a digital rectal exam. However, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are screening methods that can not only detect cancer at an early stage, but also find and eliminate any precancerous polyp.
Symptoms of colon cancer.
Colon cancer can be difficult to detect because the symptoms often overlap with other common medical conditions. When symptoms occur, they are usually related to the digestive tract. Common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, bloody stools, narrower stools than usual, or the feeling that your bowels are not completely empty. Colon cancer can also manifest itself with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, unexplained weight loss or gas and painful cramping.
The main method to treat colon cancer is surgery to remove the tumor. In some cases, this procedure can be done in a minimally invasive way with a long robotic arm that enters the body to remove the tumor. Other times, open surgery is required.
Often, additional treatments are needed to kill the cancer cells at the tumor site or in the surrounding tissues. These treatments can be in the form of radiotherapy, chemotherapy or biological therapy