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What is Colon Cancer

 

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. It is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the colon.

The colon is a part of the large intestine, which is a long, coiled tube at the end of the digestive system. The colon’s main job is to absorb water and nutrients from food and to get rid of solid waste.

Most colon cancers begin as small, noncancerous (benign) tumors called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps can become cancerous.

Colon cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer, which is a term that includes cancerous growths in the rectum.

Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it is also one of the most preventable. The colon is the large intestine, and the cancer usually starts in the lining of the colon or rectum.

It can spread to other parts of the body, but if it is caught early, it is highly treatable. There are a number of risk factors for colon cancer, including age, family history, and lifestyle choices.

But the good news is that there are also a number of things you can do to lower your risk, including getting screened for colon cancer.

 

Let’s look at colon cancer, the symptoms thereof and how it can be prevented.

 


Polyps Explained


colon polyp, also called a colonic polyp or a colorectal polyp, is a small, benign growth that forms on the lining of the colon.

 While most colon polyps are harmless, some may develop into cancer. The majority of colon polyps are adenomatous polyps, which are made up of glandular cells.

Polyps can occur in many locations in the body, including ears, nose, uterus or throat.

Other types of colon polyps include inflammatory polyps, hamartomata’s polyps, and hyperplastic polyps.

Colon polyps can be found during a colonoscopy, a procedure in which a long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and passed through the entire length of the colon.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor may do a removal of a colon polyp.

In this article we will discuss more on the symptoms of colon polyps, causes and diagnosis.

A colon polyp is a small growth that develops on the lining of the colon (large intestine). Colon polyps are very common, with most people having at least one by the time they reach the age of 50.

While most colon polyps are benign (non-cancerous), some can develop into cancer over time. That’s why it’s important to have regular colon screenings, which can detect and remove polyps before they turn into cancer.

 Colon cancer symptoms - The Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

 

The Types of Colon Cancer

 

There are several types of colon cancer, which are distinguished by their place of origin in the large intestine.

The most common type is colon adenocarcinoma, which arises from the lining of the intestine.

Other types include:

  • Colon small cell carcinoma
  • Colon mucinous adenocarcinoma
  • Colon signet ring cell adenocarcinoma

Each type of colon cancer has different characteristics and requires different treatment.
Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment based on the type of cancer you have.


The Symptoms of Colon Cancer

 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colon cancer, you may be feeling a range of emotions.

You may be scared, confused, and feeling overwhelmed.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this difficult time.

One of the most important things you can do is to learn about your disease. This includes understanding the symptoms of colon cancer.

Knowing the symptoms can help you catch the disease early, when it is most treatable.

The most common symptom of colon cancer is bleeding from the rectum.  

Other symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Weakness or Fatigue

colon cancer polyps - The Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

 

The Causes of Colon Cancer

There are many possible causes of colon cancer. In most cases, the exact cause is unknown.

However, there are some risk factors that may increase your chance of developing colon cancer.

Some of the most common risk factors include:

Age
The risk of colon cancer increases with age. Most cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.

Family history
If you have a close relative (parent, sibling, or child) who has had colon cancer, you are more likely to develop the disease yourself.

Inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic inflammation of the colon is a risk factor for colon cancer.

Diet
A diet high in fat and red meat has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.

 colon cancer colonoscopy - The Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colonoscopy Explained

 

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows your doctor to closely examine the lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.

A colonoscopy can help diagnose problems with your colon, such as inflammation, bleeding, and polyps. It can also be used as a screening test to help prevent colorectal cancer.

During a colonoscopy, your doctor will insert a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into your rectum and guide it through your colon.

The colonoscope has a tiny camera at its tip that allows your doctor to see the lining of your colon. Your doctor may also take biopsies (small tissue samples) during the procedure.

 

Why Cancer Screening is Important

 

It is recommended that all persons at average risk of Colorectal cancer should first get screened for cancer when they are 50 years of age. 

The American Cancer Society has recently recommended screening from age 45, because of Colorectal cancer occurring in younger individuals.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may need to get screened earlier.  This screening should occur 5 years younger than the age of the affected family member.

Besides individuals with a family history of colon cancer, others that are considered at risk of the condition include those with a medical history of polyps and inflammatory bowel disease.

After your first screening, you are also expected to have subsequent screenings in 5–10-year intervals, depending on your risk profile.

You may also be scheduled to have an earlier screening depending on what your doctor found during the first screening.

The screening we have been mentioning here is a colonoscopy.  This screening is not regarded as the “gold standard” procedure for the prevention of colon cancer but is the only procedure that can both diagnose and remove the pre-malignant polyps.

Through colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist is able to see precancerous polyps in your colon and remove them thus preventing colorectal cancer.

Alternative tests include fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy and virtual colonoscopy.  If polyps are discovered on these tests, you will need to undergo a colonoscopy for polyp removal.

These are some conditions of the gastrointestinal system that can also increase your risk of colon cancer such as inflammatory bowel disease – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

When you are diagnosed with colonic polyps your doctor may want you to have more frequent screening to monitor your condition and prevent colon cancer.

colon cancer screening - The Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

 

Contact Dr. Schneider

There is no single answer to the question of how to prevent colon cancer. However, there are many things that you can do to reduce your risk. 

These include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking. If you are at high risk for colon cancer, you may also need to have regular screening tests.

Dr. Schneider is a medical professional with many years of experience in the field.  His services include endoscopy procedures such as, gastroscopy, colonoscopy and video capsule endoscopy.

If you are concerned about polyps or colon cancer, talk to Dr. Schneider to book your appointment.

For further reading on the procedures we perform, please visit our website or contact Dr. Schneider on 011-482-3010.

 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.