Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that more than 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020. While it is a serious disease, it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer when caught early.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine, which is the last part of the digestive system. It is also known as colorectal cancer. The cancer begins when cells in the colon start to grow abnormally and form a tumor. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
The exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, but there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the disease. These include age, family history, diet, and lifestyle. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop colon cancer, as are those with a family history of the disease. Eating a diet high in red and processed meats, as well as smoking and drinking alcohol, can also increase your risk.
How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?
Colon cancer is usually diagnosed through a colonoscopy, which is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end to look inside the colon. During the procedure, the doctor may take a biopsy, which is a small sample of tissue that is sent to a lab for testing. Other tests, such as a stool test or a CT scan, may also be used to diagnose colon cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
The most common symptom of colon cancer is a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely. Other symptoms may include blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss.
How is Colon Cancer Treated?
The treatment for colon cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer, and it may be used to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, may also be used to kill any remaining cancer cells.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colon Cancer?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. Eating a healthy diet that is low in red and processed meats and high in fruits and vegetables can help. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also help reduce your risk. Additionally, getting regular screenings for colon cancer is important, as it can help detect the disease in its early stages when it is most treatable.
Colon cancer is a serious disease, but it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer when caught early. Knowing the risk factors, symptoms, and treatments can help you stay informed and take steps to reduce your risk. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor.