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February 28, 2017

Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Treatment & Prevention

For nonsmokers, colon cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is the third leading cause of death for both men and women, and each year in the U.S. 140,000 new cases of colon cancer are expected.

These numbers may seem grim, but colon cancer can be detected early; and when it is, more than 90% of patients can be cured. As Colon Cancer Awareness Month is ending, our physicians and staff want you to know all their is to know about Colon Cancer. It is essential that patients are educated about colon cancer’s symptoms, risk factors, treatment and prevention.

Colon Cancer Symptoms

If you’re wondering why your doctor has suddenly started pushing you to undergo a colonoscopy once you reach age 50, it’s because the most common symptom of colon cancer is no symptom at all. Because a person’s colon is a large organ, it can handle when tissue growths occur without your body being aware and raising the alarm through physical symptoms.

When symptoms do arise, patients should look out for:

  • Blood in your stool/rectal bleeding
  • Changing bowel habits: diarrhea, constipation or if your stool is a different consistency
  • Pain, discomfort, cramping in your abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue, weakness, anemia
  • Colon Cancer Risk Factors

You may be at risk for colon cancer if you…

  • Are 50 or older (men AND women)
  • Have a family or personal history of colon cancer/colon polyps
  • Are obese, diabetic, a smoker or consume a heavy amount of alcohol
  • Are not active, lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have a diet consistently low in fiber and high in fat

Colon Cancer Treatment

Colon cancer is typically treated with a colectomy surgery. A colectomy is a procedure in which all or part of a person’s colon is removed – when the entire colon ends up being removed the procedure is known as a proctocolectomy. Chemotherapy will be recommended if the colon cancer is more advanced. Radiation is usually used to treat rectal cancer, but radiation and chemotherapy may be combined.

Prevention

As stated previously, colon cancer is preventable. The key is to take the necessary steps in order to catch any abnormal tissue or cell growth early, before it can advance to a life-threatening condition. Talk to your gastroenterologist today about scheduling a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is the “gold standard” for colon cancer prevention. The procedure is designed with your comfort in mind, and this simple procedure saves countless lives year after year.