Colon cancer forms in the large intestine of the digestive system. Malignant tumors can form in the colon and spread cancer cells to other tissues and organs. The National Institutes of Health reports 0ver 100,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2010. It is estimated that more than 50,000 patients died from colon cancer in 2010.
Colon cancer symptoms include digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, cramps or bloating. Changes in the patient’s stool such as narrow stools, blood in the stool or the bowel no emptying completely are signs as well. Weight loss, exhaustion, and nausea or vomiting are also colon cancer signs. Since most patients don’t experience pain due to colon cancer many people are diagnosed through routine screening.
The exact causes of colon cancer are unknown. Certain risk factors have been identified that would make a person more likely to develop colon cancer. The first factor is age. Over 90 percent of those who have colon cancer are diagnosed when they are over 50. If a patient has polyps in the colon then some of them may eventually be cancerous. A patient with a family history of colon cancer is more likely to develop colon cancer. Another cause of some rare kinds of colon cancer seems to be caused by genetic changes. Those who have personally had colon cancer or women who have had ovary, uterine or breast cancer are at slightly higher risk. Eating an unhealthy diet may be a factor, although the studies are not conclusive. Smoking cigarettes is thought to increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Screening tests including blood tests, colonoscopies, and rectal exams can all detect colon cancer.
Treatments for colon cancer can be either systemic or local. Local treatments include surgery to remove the tumor or radiation directed toward the tumor. Systemic treatments such as chemotherapy are drugs introduced to the blood stream that can attack cancer throughout the body. The treatment selected will depend on the location of the cancer and the stage of development.
Staying fit and eat a healthy diet can lower the risk factors for colon cancer. They are also important for those undergoing treatment for colon cancer. A diet low in fat and high in vegetables and fruits may be helpful in reducing risks. Low impact exercises such as yoga, swimming and walking are often recommended. Current research is focusing on supplements such as vitamin D and calcium to reduce the risks of colon cancer.
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