Colon cancer starts in the colon, also called the large intestine, which is the final portion of the digestive tract. Typically, colon cancer begins when noncancerous clumps of cells called polyps develop in the colon and then become cancerous over time.
Unfortunately, polyps usually do not create symptoms, so it is important to receive routine screenings to detect polyps before they become cancerous. There is treatment, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy available to treat colon cancer. Some people may lump colon cancer into a type called colorectal cancer, which also includes cancer of the rectum.
What is the prognosis for colon cancer?
Research shows that colon cancer is treatable, as the 5-year survival rate for localized colon cancer is 90 percent.
What is the best treatment for colon cancer?
The proper course of treatment for colon cancer depends upon the severity and size of the cancer. There are surgical treatments for both early and late-stage colon cancers. For example, if colon cancer is small, surgery may involve removing a polyp. Larger, more advanced stage colon cancer may require surgery to remove part of the colon. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy are other treatment options. An oncologist can recommend the best treatment option for a particular case of colon cancer.
How can I reduce my risk of colon cancer?
Certain people may be at increased risk of colon cancer because of family history or certain digestive conditions like ulcerative colitis, but you can reduce your likelihood of developing colon cancer by limiting your alcohol intake, giving up smoking, getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Screening is also an important part of prevention; regular colon cancer screenings are recommended for everyone age 50 and older, but should occur earlier for those with risk factors for colon cancer.
- “I suddenly began to lose weight with no explanation, and I felt tired all the time and suffered from ongoing stomach pain and cramps.”
- “I started to experience constipation, which is unusual for me, and I noticed that I was having blood in my stools.”
- “In addition to non-stop abdominal pain and gas, I started to feel as if I never had a complete bowel movement.”