Colon Cancer

Cancerous cells in the tissues of the large intestine or colon


By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 12, 2011



Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both genders but there are many treatment and prevention options available to patients.

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a malignant disease caused by the growth of cancerous cells in the tissues of the large intestine or colon.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer can manifest itself through different symptoms. Traces of blood mixed with stools or any other form of rectal bleeding, weight loss that is sudden in nature and sharp, consistent pain in the abdomen are symptoms of the disease. If a person suffers from paradigm shifts in their bowel patterns, too many or too few than what is considered normal as well as consistent diarrhea, constipation or even shifts in size or shape of stools, colon cancer is a possibility that needs to be looked into. For patients who are 50 years and older or have a family history of colon cancer, it is prudent to get yourself tested.

Risk Factors of Colon Cancer

Any criteria that increase the chances of getting a specific disease like colon cancer are recognized as risk factors that make a person more susceptible to the disease. Risk factors include age of 50 years or more, a history of colon cancer in the family, an individual history of colon, rectum, endometrial or ovarian cancer, a history of benign polyps that are found in the large intestine, history of ulcers in the colon, Crohn disease as well as hereditary factors like adenomatous polyposis or HNPCC/Lynch Syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer).Other risk factors that have been identified include obesity, smoking of cigarettes and excessive consumption of alcohol.

Tests for Colon Cancer

Certain tests are routinely conducted to diagnose colon cancer like a digital rectal exam, FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Test), sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and virtual colonoscopy with the help of pictures obtained through a computed tomography (CT) scan. If a polyp or suspicious tissue is found during a colonoscopy, then it will be examined under the microscope to check if it is cancerous.

Treatment of Colon Cancer


Depending on the stage the colon cancer has reached there are a few treatment options available. Surgery is resorted to in order to remove the existing tumor. It might be necessary to remove parts of the colon or the whole colon through a colostomy to check the cancer completely. Often chemotherapy is used before, after or during surgery to kill the cancerous cells. Biologic therapy is a type of colon cancer treatment that uses drugs to affect the growth factors of the cancerous cells. Combination of two or more types of treatment options may be recommended.

Prevention of Colon Cancer


Studies show that patients who have dietary intakes that are high in animal fats as well as processed meat are at a risk so reducing this intake may prevent colon cancer. Smoking and alcohol use should be limited. At least 30 minutes of physical activity for a minimum of 5 days a week is recommended to prevent colon cancer to some extent. Regular screening after the age of 50 years may help early detection of polyps and prevention of

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