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Colon Cancer: The Basics

  • All
  • Overview
  • Symptoms & Causes
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment

What is colon cancer?

Cancer of the large intestine or colon is referred to as colon cancer. Colon cancer usually begins as benign polyps or growths. Regular screenings are recommended to detect cancerous polyps before they spread. 

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer and colon cancer are sometimes used interchangeably. However, colon cancer and rectum cancer begin in distinct areas of the large intestine. The latter occurs in the last 12 centimeters of the large intestine.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

The usual initial symptoms are a small amount if rectal blood, only detected by a lab test or spotty, periodic blood with passing a stool. As the cancer grows, other symptoms include a change in bowel movements, new abdominal discomfort, nausea, possible loss of appetite and possible weight loss.

What causes colon cancer?

Like other cancers, colon cancer is due to rapid cell production from mutated or abnormal cellular DNA. The exact cause is unknown but risk factors include inherited gene mutations, diets high in fat, being 50 years or older and having a family history of colon cancer. Other contributing factors are: being obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, having inflammatory intestinal conditions and having diabetes (type 2).

What are the stages of colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is divided into four stages, stage I to IV. Each stage progresses in severity, the last stage meaning that cancer has spread to distant areas and/or organs such as the liver. Treatment will be determined according to the stage of cancer in a patient.

Can women get colon cancer?

Women can get colon cancer, even though it is more prevalent in men. Anyone is susceptible to the development of colon cancer. Regular screenings for early detection of cancerous polyps are very important.

Is colon cancer curable and/or treatable?

Colon cancer can be curable and/or treatable depending on what stage the cancer is in. The sooner it is diagnosed, the better chance of a complete cure. Treatments include surgery (removing the cancerous polyps and lesions from other organs if it has spread), chemotherapy and radiation.

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