Colon cancer is a very serious type of cancer that affects 160,000 people in the United States every year. One out of every four people who are diagnosed with colon cancer will die from the disease. It is the third most prevalent form of cancer in the world.
Some possible symptoms of colon cancer include rectal bleeding and blood in the stool. With that being said, 90% of people with rectal bleeding do not have cancer. If you go to the bathroom and fine blood in your stool, this could be a sign of G.I. cancer/colorectal cancer or it could simply be from hemorrhoids. Some people who experience rectal bleeding will merely have abnormal blood vessel formations in their bowel, which is not a serious condition. Of those that have lesions discovered in their intestinal tract, most of those will be benign polyps. Other symptoms of colon cancer include abdominal pain, vomiting and decreased stool volume.
How Can I Be Sure That It’s Not IBS or Some Other G.I. Disorder?
The only way to make sure of your diagnosis is to visit a gastroenterologist for x-rays. A colonoscopy will usually be employed for older patients. Note the IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion: doctors first need to make sure that the symptoms do not indicate a more serious disease.
Colon Cancer Treatment
There are different stages of severity for colon cancer. Dukes B is a stage where the cancer has permeated the bowel wall but has not invaded the lymph nodes. Dukes C is a more advanced form of colon cancer where the cancer has metastasized and has spread to the lymph nodes. Both of these stages of colon cancer are treatable by surgery. About 50% of all patients who have colon cancer surgery go on to get chemotherapy treatment as well. Many patients opt for the oral form of chemotherapy – 5-FU, otherwise known as Flourouracil. Oral chemotherapy is an effective means of killing all of the microscopic cancer cells that are left in the body after colon cancer surgery.
Colon Cancer Screening – Get it Before It’s Too Late
Colon cancer screening is recommended beginning at the age of 50. The average onset of colon cancer diagnoses is between the ages of 60 and 70. It’s important to ask your family members if there is any family history of any type of cancer. It might be hard, but if you are diagnosed with colon cancer, then you should encourage your extended family to be even more vigilant for getting checkups as colon cancer has a genetic component. A troubling statistic is that 15 to 20% of all colon cancer patients get treated in the emergency room. These are people who have waited for the last minute to see a doctor which doesn’t help their survival rates. If you get any symptoms ranging from blood in the stool to persistent abdominal pains then you need to get a check up. Screening is not 100% effective: if you are in a high risk category, you should get a CAT scan every year and a colonoscopy every three years regardless if you have symptoms or not. In addition to people that have a family history of colon cancer, smokers, diabetics and overweight people also have a higher incidence of colorectal cancer. Exercise in general is a good way to help prevent the gastrointestinal diseases.