Cancer, colon

Other names: Colorectal cancer

DEFINITION

Colon Cancer is Cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is Cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they're often referred to as colorectal Cancers. Most cases of colon Cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon Cancers. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon Cancer by identifying polyps before they become colon Cancer.

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

In most cases, it's not clear what causes colon Cancer. Doctors know that colon Cancer occurs when healthy cells in the colon become altered. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But when a cell is damaged and becomes Cancerous, cells continue to divide — even when new cells aren't needed.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that may increase your risk of colon Cancer include older age, African-American race, personal history of colorectal Cancer or polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions, inherited syndromes that increase colon Cancer risk, family history of colon Cancer and Colon polyps, low-fiber high-fat diet, sedentary lifestyle, Diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and radiation therapy for Cancer.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. Write down any symptoms you're experiencing. Write down key personal information. Make a list of all medications you're taking. Consider taking a family member or friend along. Write down questions to ask your doctor.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing colon Cancer involves using a scope to examine the inside of your colon and staging tests to determine the extent of the Cancer.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Treatment options for colon Cancer include surgery for early-stage and invasive Cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

To reduce your risk of colon Cancer make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol in moderation if at all, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

No complementary or alternative treatments have been found to cure colon Cancer but they may help cope with distress after diagnosis.

COPING AND SUPPORT

Coping with a cancer diagnosis involves knowing what to expect, keeping friends and family close for support, finding someone to talk with about your hopes and fears.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Symptoms include changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood in stool.

  1. What are some risk factors for developing colon cancer?

Risk factors include older age, family history of the disease.

  1. How is colon cancer diagnosed?

Colon cancer is diagnosed through tests like colonoscopy.

  1. What are the treatment options for early-stage colon cancer?

Surgery may be an option for early-stage cancer.

  1. How can one reduce their risk of developing colon cancer?

Lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce risk.

  1. Are there alternative treatments that can cure colon cancer?

No alternative treatments have been found to cure the disease.

  1. What should one do if they suspect they have symptoms of colon cancer?

It's important to see a doctor for evaluation and possible screening.

  1. Can genetics play a role in developing colon cancer?

Yes, inherited gene mutations can increase the risk.

  1. At what age should one consider screening for colon cancer?

Screening generally begins at age 50 but may be earlier based on risk factors.

  1. How can one cope with a diagnosis of colon cancer?

Coping strategies include staying informed about treatment options and seeking support from friends and family.