Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the growth of cancer in the large intestine. The large intestine, or colon, absorbs water and nutrients from foods. After, the colon passes the solid waste to the rectum for storage, before it is eliminated from the body. Treatment for colon cancer depends on how early it is detected, or if the cancer has spread.

  • Causes

    Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Eventually these uncontrolled cells form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

  • Definition

    Colon cancer is the growth of cancer in the large intestine. The large intestine, or colon, absorbs water and nutrients from foods. After, the colon passes the solid waste to the rectum for storage, before it is eliminated from the body.

    Treatment for colon cancer depends on how early it is detected, or if the cancer has spread.

    Colon Cancer
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check the rectum for lumps or abnormal areas, and recommend different tests in order to identify tumors and confirm diagnosis.

    Tests used to identify potential colon cancers include:

    • Fecal occult blood test
    • Colonoscopy
    • Sigmoidoscopy
    • Barium enema
    • CT colonography


    Additional tests may confirm the presence of colon cancer, determine what stage the cancer is in, and/or determine if the cancer has spread:

    • Biopsy
    • Polypectomy
    • CT scan
    • PET scan
    • Transrectal ultrasound
    • Blood tests to look for anemia and cancer markers in the blood

  • Prevention

  • Risk Factors

    Being over 50 years old increases your chance of colon cancer. Other factors that may increase your chance of colon cancer include:


    • Hereditary conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis
    • Personal history of colon or rectal cancer, or polyps
    • Family history of colon or rectal cancer, especially a parent, sibling, or child

    • History of
      ulcerative colitis
      or
      Crohn’s disease
    • Obesity
    • Smoking

    • Diets high in meat, and low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
    • Heavy alcohol intake
    • Physical inactivity

  • Symptoms


    In most cases, there are no symptoms with colon cancer. When symptoms do appear, they may include:


    • A change in bowel habits
    • Blood, either bright red, or black and tarry, in the stool
    • Stools that are narrower than usual
    • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
    • General abdominal discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, and/or cramps
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Constant feeling of fatigue or tiredness

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may include one or more of the following options: