About Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is one of the leading cancers today. It affects your large intestine, also known as the colon, the last part of your digestive tract. Most colon cancer begins as noncancerous cell clumps called adenomatous polyps, which later become colon cancers in some people.
Polyps can be very small and present few symptoms, if any at all. This is why doctors recommend you undergo regular colon cancer screening to find polyps before they become cancerous.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Changing bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, or changes in how your stool looks for more than four weeks
- Bleeding in your rectum or stool
- Cramps, gas or pain in your abdomen for a long period of time
- A bloated feeling in your abdomen, as if it does not empty as it should
- Weight loss without explanation
Colon cancer often provides no symptoms at all early in the disease. When you have symptoms, they vary depending on your cancer’s location in your large intestine and the disease’s size.
Seeing a Doctor for Colon Cancer Symptoms
If you believe you have symptoms of colon cancer, such as bloody stools or changing bowel habits, you need to see your doctor right away. Talk to your healthcare provider about screening for colon cancer. These tests usually begin at age 50, but may occur more frequently or earlier if you have symptoms or risk factors.
Risk Factors of Colon Cancer
Some people are at greater risk for colon cancer than others. Any one risk factor does not mean you will gain a colon cancer diagnosis, but you could experience a higher risk of colon cancer if the following apply to you:
- Older than 50 years of age
- African American race
- Personal history of colon polyps or cancer
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Inherited genetic syndromes leading to colon cancer
- Family history of colon cancer
- Low fiber, high fat diet, such as diets high in red meat and processed meats
- Sedentary lifestyle without exercise
- Alcohol consumption
- Cancer radiation therapy of the abdomen for previous cancer treatment
Prevention of Colon Cancer
To prevent colon cancer, it is important to gain proper screening. This is particularly true for people in high risk categories or over age 50. But some people start screening earlier due to family history or personal history of colon cancer.
You can undergo multiple types of colon cancer screening. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. You should discuss your risk factors and screening options with your doctor to decide which methods are best for your health needs.
If you gain a colon cancer diagnosis, Arizona Center for Cancer Care provides more than 35 offices and 55 physicians across Maricopa County for your cancer treatment. Whether you live in the Northeast Valley, Southeast Valley or West Valley, you benefit from the best physicians, leading treatment technologies and most up-to-date research in the country, right near your home.