Colon cancer awareness has increased in recent years, but many people are still unaware of the risks. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, and it is one of the leading causes of death from cancer. The good news is that colon cancer is preventable and treatable if detected early. Here, we will provide some basic information on colon cancer, including its symptoms, risk factors, and screening recommendations. By increasing awareness of this disease, we can help save lives.
Men and women who are 45 years of age or older are educated about the value of routine colorectal cancer screenings as part of the CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. Precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) can be removed before they develop into cancer thanks to screening tests, which help locate them. It guards against colorectal cancer. The optimum time to treat this cancer is when it is found early through screening. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023)
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer symptoms and signs include constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the stool’s consistency that lasts for a long time are examples of persistent changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools, ongoing abdominal discomfort that includes cramps, gas, or pain, a sensation that your bowels aren’t totally empty, weakness or exhaustion, or unaccounted-for weight loss. Early on in the disease, colon cancer is often symptomless in many patients. Depending on the size and location of the cancer in your large intestine, symptoms may differ. (Mayo Clinic)
What Is Colorectal Cancer Screening?
When a person does not exhibit any signs of an illness, a screening test is conducted to look for it. Diagnostic tests are used to determine the cause of symptoms when a person exhibits them. Almost invariably, precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum lead to colorectal cancer. Precancerous polyps can be found by screening tests and treated before they progress to malignancy. Additionally, screening tests can detect colorectal cancer early, when therapy is most effective.
After turning 45, your doctor should recommend you start getting examined for colorectal cancer, and you should continue getting screened periodically after that. However, if you have intestinal inflammation, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, or a history of colorectal cancer or polyps in the family or personally, or a genetic syndrome, such as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) external icon (Lynch syndrome), you might need to be examined earlier than 45 or more frequently than other people. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022)
The stage (extent) of the cancer determines how it will be treated, although other aspects may also be significant. Surgery is typically used as the primary or initial treatment for people whose colon cancer has not progressed to other areas of the body. After surgery, chemotherapy may also be given (called adjuvant treatment). The average duration of adjuvant therapy is six months. (Cancer.org)
Educate Yourself and Test for Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition, but it is also largely preventable. By understanding the risk factors, symptoms, and screening recommendations for colon cancer, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing this disease. If you have any concerns or questions about colon cancer, be sure to speak with your doctor.
“Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Jan. 2023, www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/sfl/index.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcancer%2Fcolorectal%2Fsfl%2Fabout.htm.
“What Should I Know about Screening for Colorectal Cancer?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Feb. 2022, www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/index.htm.
“Colon Cancer.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Oct. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669.
“Colon Cancer Treatment, by Stage: How to Treat Colon Cancer.” Colon Cancer Treatment, by Stage | How to Treat Colon Cancer, www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/treating/by-stage-colon.html.