What Is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins growing in the large intestine (the colon). It is one of the most common types of cancer, and it is important to be aware of the symptoms, risk factors, and prevention methods.
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing colon cancer. Some of these include age, family history, and lifestyle factors such as a diet high in fat and low in fiber, physical inactivity, and smoking. Individuals with a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps in the colon are also at an increased risk.
Other factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer include being overweight or obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, consuming a diet high in processed meat, and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. It's important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine personal risk and to discuss steps to lower it.
Early colon cancer often does not cause noticeable symptoms, making it important to receive regular screenings starting at the age recommended by your healthcare provider. As cancer progresses, symptoms can include changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, and blood in the stool.
Diagnosing colon cancer typically involves a combination of a physical exam, medical history review, and screening tests such as a colonoscopy or stool tests. If a suspicious area is found during a screening test, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the presence of cancer.
In some cases, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI may also be used to aid in the diagnosis of colon cancer. It is important to undergo regular screening tests starting at the age recommended by a healthcare provider in order to detect colon cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable.
Treatment options for colon cancer depend on the stage of cancer, as well as the patient's overall health. Options can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended.
There are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of developing colon cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet that is high in fiber and low in fat, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco, and getting screened for colon cancer as recommended by a healthcare provider are all effective prevention methods.
Living with Colon Cancer
Living with colon cancer can be challenging, but there are resources and support systems available to help patients and their families. Staying informed about the disease, participating in a support group, and seeking the advice of healthcare professionals are all important steps in managing colon cancer.