Colon And Colorectal Cancer
Colon Cancer is cancer of the large intestine, which is the lowest part of the intestinal tract. Rectal cancer occurs in the last few inches of the colon. They are often grouped together and called colorectal cancer because they have the same risk factors, behave the same, and have very similar treatment. Most colon cancers begin as polyps, which are small clumps of cells that grow from the lining of the colon. Over a period of years, they can grow and develop into cancer. Removing a polyp will prevent it from becoming a cancer. For this reason, many groups of doctors recommend regular screening tests to find polyps and remove them before they have a chance to change into cancers.
Colon cancer becomes more common as people get older. It can happen in any age, but is most common after age 50. African-Americans have a higher risk of colon cancer than other races. People with a personal history or a family history of colon polyps are at higher risk. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease also increas the risk of colon cancer. People with certain genetc problems like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrom) are also at higher risk. Finally, a low-fiber, high-fat diet increases the risk of colon cancer.
Symptoms may include:
A change in your bowel movements - this may include diarrhea, constipation, or a change in the color, texture, or width of your stool
Blood in the stool
Abdominal cramping, gas, or pain
Tiredness or weakness
What your doctor can do:
Ask about your symptoms, medical history, and family history
Performing a physical exam including a rectal examination and a check of your stool for blood
Arrange for colonoscopy - examination of the inside of the colon with a long, flexible, fiber-optic camera which can be used to remove polyps and take biopsies
Refer you to a surgeon for removal of the part of your colon that contains the cancer. Your surgeon will discuss with you exactly what will be done during your surgery.
Radiation therapy may be performed before and/or after surgery
Chemotherapy may be given before and/or after surgery
What you can do:
Eat a diet low in meat, high in fiber, and low in fat
Ask your doctor about screening for colorectal cancer - there are many options, and your doctor can discuss the best option for you.
For more information contact the American Cancer Society @ 1-800-ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org