Colon Cancer; Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and more. - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Colon Cancer; Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and more.

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The American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. However, early diagnosis can lead to a complete cure in nearly every case.

In most all cases, colon cancer begins as benign polyps which develop into cancer, but there is no single cause for colon cancer.

RISK FACTORS - Those at high risk for colon cancer typically have:

  • - Colorectal polyps
  • - Cancer in other parts of the body
  • - A family history of colon cancer
  • - Ulcerative colitis
  • - Crohn's disease
  • - Personal history of breast cancer

Colon cancer may also be associated with your diet. A high-fat, low-fiber, and red meat diet may have an affect on your risk of colon cancer.

SYMPTOMS - There are many cases of colon cancer that nave no symptoms, however the following symptoms may be related to the cancer:

  • Diarhea, constipation, or other change in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Narrow stools

Colon cancer can be dected before symptoms develop with proper screening. The cancer is most curable prior to symptom development.

TREATMENT - Treatment depends partly on the stage of the cancer, and treatements typically include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.  Chemotherapy medicines are used to kill cancer cells, surgery to remove the cells, and radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue.

Stage 0 colon cancer may be treated by removing the cancer cells during a colonoscopy.

Stages I, II, and III require more extensive surgery inorder to remove the part of the colon that is infected with cancer.

Almost all patients with stage III colon cancer recieve chemotherapy for 6-8 months after surgery. There is some debate regarding chemotherapy on patients with stage II colon cancer.

Chemotherapy is also used for patients with stage IV colon cancer. Patients with stage IV cancer that has spread to the liver may require treatements directed specifically at the liver.

PROGNISIS - Expectations for patients depends on various things, including the stage of teh cancer. In general, if treated at an early stage, more than 90% of patients have a 5-year survival rate. However, only 39% of colon cancer is fount at an early stage. The survival rate drops considerably once the cancer has spread.

The death rate for colon cancer has dropped in the last 15 years, which is possible due to increased awareness and screening by colonoscopy.

PREVENTION - Mena nd women over the age of 50  are encouraged to have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is usually painless and most patients are under anesthesia during the procedure.

Diet and lifestyle changes are important in the prevention of colon cancer. There is some evidence that suggests a low-fat and high-fiber diet could reduce the risk of colon cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Servcices Task Force recomments against taking asprin or other anti-inflammatory medicies to prevent colon cancer. Asprin may cause gastrointestinal bleeding and heart problems. Although low-dose aspirin may help reduce conditions such as heart disease, it does not lower the rate of colon cancer.


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