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The Topic of Colon Cancer: Are You at Risk? What are the Treatments?
It’s a topic that few want to talk about and fewer still even think about. Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is a very distasteful subject, but approximately 145,000 individuals are diagnosed each year with this type of cancer and around 50,000 people end up dying from it. So how do you know if you have colon cancer and are there treatments?
There is a good news side to colorectal cancer. It is one of the slowest growing of the cancer types and, if caught early enough, is treatable. Sadly it is also one of the most undiagnosed types of cancer as it can exist for years without any symptoms or problems. Thanks to a rise of awareness, more people are getting screened for colon cancer and by the year 2009, the number of incidents decreased by approximately 22% and the death rate decreased by around 26%.
Colorectal cancer seems to affect men more than women and it is true that the chances of getting it increase with the age of the person. The reason for this is that it can take ten years (or more) for the precancerous polyp to actually develop and grow. Some of the factors for colon cancer may be genetic, but many people get the disease without any history of it in their family.
Colon cancer is a bit of a hidden one, in that there really aren’t a lot of symptoms. A person can have colon cancer without knowing it; this is why screening is so important. There are a few symptoms to be aware of, such as a change in bowel habits (i.e. sudden onset of constipation), a weight loss, the narrowing of stool size, rectal bleeding, bloating and abdominal pain.
More people are having a screening procedure done, called a colonoscopy. This allows a doctor to view whether there are any polyps forming. If there are polyps, the physician can remove them in a thirty minute outpatient process and you will be back at home that day. A mild sedative will reduce any discomfort, so you don’t have to be concerned that there will be a lot of pain.
In more recent years there are a few alternative colon screening tests, however, the colonoscopy remains the best to date. Other tests include: a home test called the fecal occult blood test which tests for blood and other anomalies in the fecal content; another test is called the virtual colon test (CT colonography) and involves a number of x-rays of the colon area. The only problem with the latter is that the polyps can be discovered but removal will still require the outpatient surgery.
Treatment for colon cancer varies, depending upon the stage. If the cancer is still localized, the tumor is removed and a regiment of chemotherapy is recommended. If the cancer has spread, it typically moves to the liver first, however, it can move to other parts of the body. A chemotherapy treatment approach will be recommended, depending upon where the cancer may have moved to.
Unlike many forms of cancer, colon cancer can be detected and treated in its early stages with an excellent percentage of positive results.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.