Colon cancer is the third major cause of cancer for men and the fourth most common cause of cancer for women. Cancer of the colon and rectum, also called colorectal cancer, is more common among people who eat a western style diet than among people in Asia or Africa who eat an eastern diet.
The colon is the lower part of the digestive system used to process wastes. At the end of the colon is the rectum from which waste material is excreted out of the body. This long tube is the large intestine. Polyps can attack to the walls of the intestine without causing any problems. These are often discovered during a colonoscopy and may be removed during that process. Much of the time polyps are benign, not cancerous.
Polyps that are not removed from the large intestine may become malignant or cancerous if ignored long enough. Cancerous tumors may also cause damage to nearby organs or tissues. If the cancer spreads to other areas, the process is called metastasis. If the cancer is not discovered early and metastasis occurs, there is no opportunity for cure.
As far as researchers know, colorectal cancer is linked to diet and family history. Some people seem to be more inclined to develop this cancer than others, even with other dietary and lifestyle factors being equal. People who eat high fat diets are at higher risk for colorectal cancer than people who eat a balanced low fat diet. The recent revelations identify trans-fats in many foods in groceries and restaurants that points up the danger lurking in common foods. Neither cancer nor obesity is common among people who eat fresh vegetables, high fiber foods, whole grains and low fat meats or seafood.
People with a history of ulcerative colitis need to be closely monitored for colon cancer. With this chronic condition, development of colon polyps can increase due to cell damage. The benign polyps can “learn” or gain information from chromosomes of damaged cells in the colon that lead to cancer. After suffering from ulcerative colitis for ten years or more, the risk of colon cancer dramatically increases.
A known genetic link for colon cancer exists between first degree biological family members of persons with colon cancer. When there is a family history of colon cancer, the risk of developing it is three times greater than the risk for the general population. Don’t be complacent, because only 20% of colorectal cancer occurs among people with family history for this disease. Most colon cancers, 80% in fact, strike people without genetic connection to the disease.
Colon cancer is a silent killer, often causing no recognizable symptoms until it’s too late. Early detection with a colonoscopy is the best way to identify and treat potential cancer risks. There is no point waiting until older ages to check for risks. Colon polyps usually begin during adolescent years and may develop into cancer by age 40 to 50. General health recommendations are for a colonoscopy by age 50 and if all is well, repeat the test in ten year intervals.
Colon Cancer Symptoms – What To Be Aware Of
Colon cancer can be established in the colorectal system well before a diagnosis is made. Early detection of this cancer is typically made during a colonoscopy exam. Otherwise, it may be difficult to recognize the presence of colon cancer.
These are some symptoms that may signal polyps or cancer in the colon or rectum:
Change in bowel habits. Polyps or tumors can restrict movement of waste products through the large intestine. This situation may cause constipation or excessive, runny bowl movements.
Blood in the stool. The presence of blood in the stool is a sign that needs medical attention. It may be hemorrhoids which can be treated. Blood may also come from tumors in the large intestine. Bright red blood is often dismissed as hemorrhoids, however, it can come from the left end of the colon. Dried blood tends to come from the right section of colon.
Stomach bloating or cramping. If tumors create blockage, the back up of waste materials can result in bloating. Constipation can be the reason for cramping. However when a tumor begins to cause damage in the intestine, it is accompanied by cramping.
Sudden weight loss. While losing weight can be beneficial for many conditions, a sudden drop in weight that is not explained by diet or exercise is a symptom that needs attention.Click Here! for alternative colon cancer treatment information.
Fatigue that does not improve with rest. When not sleep deprived or overworked, the body would be rested. Tumor in the right side of the colon can cause iron deficiency anemia which is the actual cause of fatigue. With anemia, the red blood cells are not moving enough oxygen to the system. Tumors can grow and bleed for years without notice because the right side of the large intestines is the farthest from the rectum. By the time any blood reaches that point to be excreted, the blood is dried and barely visible.
Nausea, vomiting or gas not otherwise explained. A tumor blocking the colon or rectum can cause excess gas as well as nausea or vomiting. As cancer grows in the body, an overall sense of discomfort prevails and may be seen in a variety of ways.
Poorly formed stool. Blockage in the colon restricts the amount of waste that can pass. There is literally no room for the stool to form, so what gets by the blockage is runny and thin. If this is a change in bowel movement, then further examination is needed.
The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. Although polyps can form over many years, these are more common among people over age 50. Approximately 90% of colorectal cancer diagnoses are made among people in their mid-60s. That is not to rule out colon cancer at younger ages. People who have had one instance of colon cancer can develop it a second time. Women who have cancer of ovary, breast or uterus have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. For these people as well as those with family history of colon cancer, colonoscopies may be repeated every two to three years.