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Colon Cancer – An Introduction
This article will discuss the risk factors, symptoms and treatment procedures associated with colon cancer. Colon cancer is often also referred to as colorectal cancer. When a person has colon cancer, the lower part of their intestines and their rectum is affected by malignant cancerous cells. The groups of cancerous cells that are found in a patient suffering from colon cancer are called as polyps that will eventually grow into cancerous cells.
Below, one will find more information about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment of colon cancer.
Risk factors associated with colon cancer
Certain segments of the population are at higher risk of contracting colon cancer. Age is one of the most important risk factors in the sense that more than 90% of all colon cancer patients are usually over the age of 50. Statistics on colon cancer have also shown that the African American race is at higher risk of contracting colon cancer than the rest of the population.
If someone has family members who have suffered with colon cancer in the past, their risk of contracting the same is greatly increased. A very unhealthy diet that is low in fiber and high in fat can also greatly increase the risk of contracting colon cancer in a person.
Other factors that could lead to a cancer in the colon are cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a very idle lifestyle that does not involve any kind of exercise. There have been suggestions that diabetes and obesity can also increase the chances of contracting a cancer in the colon.
Symptoms of colon cancer
When a person suffers from a cancer in their colon, they will almost always experience a dramatic change in their bowel habits. They might experience long periods of constipation or diarrhea and may also experience bleeding when they pass stool. A patient suffering from colorectal cancers may also suffer from fatigue or excessive tiredness and will also often have an abdominal pain or cramp that will linger all the time.
Some patients might also experience bloating and excessive gas production while some patients might even lose a lot of weight over a very short period of time.
Older patients must make it a point to seek medical attention when they experience any of the above symptoms as some of the symptoms can be passed off as temporary problems that are related to indigestion. Older patients are also advised to go through routine screening tests to detect cancer in the colon as the cancer can grow without exhibiting any kind of symptoms in the early stages.
Treatment of colon cancer
Surgery is a good treatment option if the cancer is in an early or intermediate level of growth, where the cancerous cells are simply removed from the body. If the colon cancer is in an advanced stage of growth, only palliative surgery can be performed where the symptoms of the cancer are reduced. The cancerous cells cannot be completely removed when the colon cancer has reached an advanced level of growth.
Colon cancer is also routinely treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapies, sometimes in combination with one another.