Colon Cancer


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Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, early diagnosis often leads to a complete cure. Almost all colon cancer starts in glands in the lining of the colon and rectum.
You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you:

  • Are older than 60
  • Are African American and eastern European descent
  • Eat a diet high in red or processed meat
  • Have cancer elsewhere in the body
  • Have colorectal polyps
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis )
  • Have a family history of colon cancer
  • Have a personal history of breast cancer
  • Use cigarettes and alcohol

Symptoms:
Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms. The following symptoms, however, may indicate colon cancer:

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea , constipation, or other change in bowel habits
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Narrow stools
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Weight loss with no known reason

Signs and tests:
With proper screening, colon cancer can be detected before symptoms develop, when it is most curable.

Screening for blood in stool includes:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test

Endoscopy screening includes:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy

Blood tests that may be done include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia
  • Liver function tests

If your doctor learns that you do have colorectal cancer, more tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called staging. CT or MRI scans of the abdomen, pelvic area, chest, or brain may be used to stage the cancer. Sometimes, PET scans are also used.
Stages of colon cancer are:

  • Stage 0: Very early cancer on the innermost layer of the intestine
  • Stage I: Cancer is in the inner layers of the colon
  • Stage II: Cancer has spread through the muscle wall of the colon
  • Stage III: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other organs

 

 

Related Content


 Cancer Institute

 National Comprehensive Cancer Network

 Cancer Resources Center

 Community Support
 

 

 

 

 

 
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