Colon cancer also known as colorectal cancer or rectal cancer refers to any cancer in the colon, from the start point, called the cecum, to the end, called the rectum. It occurs when the cells that line the colon or rectum become abnormal and grow out of control.
What you should know about colon cancer
- Each year, approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States.
- Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women.
- It is one of the most curable types of gastrointestinal cancer, if detected at an early stage. The survival rate is roughly 90 percent when it is caught early.
- To increase survival odds, an early detection through screening is important.
- Regular screening should start at age 50.
- Those with a family history of colon cancer or those who are 45 years and above and of African-American or Eastern European Jewish origin should be screened even earlier.
- Colon cancer screenings should include a fecal occult test or fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) every year, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years with or without a stool based test at year 3, or a colonoscopy every 10 years.
- If a polyp is found during the screening, you will be monitored closely by your doctor. Some polyps can become cancerous if left untreated.
- Some forms of colon cancer are hereditary.
- Most patients with colon cancer will require a surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.
- Colon cancer in young people tends to be hereditary. For older people, environmental or lifestyle factors such as diet, obesity and smoking often play a key role.
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