Causes and Risk Factors of Colon Cancer

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Causes and Risk Factors of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer is a type of cancer in the large intestine and/or towards and end (rectal). Tissue type growth known as adenomatous polyps can grow in and around the glands in the lining of the colon and depending on the individual's susceptibility to cancer, these “polyps” can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant. Researchers surmise that 1 in 4 people develop polyps by the age of 50 and over, but it is uncommon for a majority of the people to develop colon cancer. However, once it develops to cancer, it can quickly grow in size if left untreated and possibly metastasis (move) to other parts of the body. People at risk for colon cancers are as follows:

60 years or older

African American of eastern European Descent

Eat a diet high in red or processed meats

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Have cancer elsewhere in the body

Have colorectal polyps

Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)

Have a family history of breast cancer

It is worth mentioning that a diet high in fiber and low in red meats decreases the number of patients whom develop the cancer, but also dramatically increases with anyone who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, obesity and live a sedentary lifestyle.

Signs, Symptoms, Tests

Since colon cancer usually begins with polyps that turns into cancer as it progresses in size, and polyps takes years to develop, other non-direct methods are employed. Screenings for a colon cancer typically looks for unexplained weight loss and rectal bleeding. In some cases abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation occurs if the polyp becomes large enough that it causes blockage and disruption of the bowel movements. A noticeable decrease in the diameter and increase in length of the the stool is also a good indication that a large polyp is present within the colon linings.

There are many symptoms for potential Colon cancer patients to be aware of and can provide insight to helping prevent further cancer being spread with early detection. Most people cannot tell if they have colon cancer due to the lack of being able to feel or detect any symptoms until the cancer becomes serious. Symptoms of Colon cancer vary from abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen to weight loss with no reason. Finding blood in a person’s stools, narrow stools, or having diarrhea or constipation or other changes in bowel movements can be a sign of having Colon cancer. Colon cancer is not a disease to be left alone or not to be worried about; having these symptoms can be serious business and can be detrimental to a person’s health.(Chen, Yi Bin.)

Although the health insurance companies that many listen to about what age and around when to go for certain colonoscopies or sigmoidoscopies to find out how their bodies are coping as they get older can be extremely misleading. Knowing from my own family experience, when first feeling symptoms one needs to go get things checked out and not push it out just to be precautious. There are efficient ways to detecting cancer, having a colonoscopy or sigmoidography done.

Treatment of Colon Cancer is very limited, not all type of rehabilitation can be used. The choice of healing depends on the location of the tumor in the colon and the stage of the disease. Surgical procedure is the most universal treatment for colon cancer patients. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (such as x-rays) or particles to destroy cancer cells. It may be part of treatment for either colon or rectal cancer. Chemotherapy can make radiation therapy more effective against some colon and rectal cancers. Using these 2 treatments together is known as chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy.

Radiation therapy is mainly used in people with colon cancer when the cancer has attached to an internal organ or the lining of the abdomen. When this occurs, the surgeon cannot be certain that all the cancer has been removed, and radiation therapy may be used to try to kill any cancer cells that may be left behind after surgery.

Radiation therapy is also used to treat colon cancer that has spread, most often if the spread is to the bones or brain.

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For rectal cancer, radiation therapy is usually given either before or after surgery to help prevent the cancer from coming back in the area where the tumor started. It is often given along with chemotherapy. Many doctors now favor giving radiation therapy before surgery, as it may make it easier to remove the cancer, especially if the cancer's size and/or position may make surgery difficult.

Giving radiation before surgery may lower the risk that the tumor will come back (recur) in the pelvis. It may also result in fewer complications such as scar formation that can cause problems with bowel movements. Radiation therapy can also be given to help control rectal cancers in people who are not healthy enough for surgery or to ease (palliate) symptoms in people with advanced cancer causing intestinal blockage, bleeding, or pain. Starting at age 40, people should have yearly digital rectal exams and stool testing for occult blood.' More frequent or earlier screening may be needed for people who have a family history of this cancer. In a recent article in Reuter's Health, researchers have found a protein, p110gamma that blocks the development of colon cancer.' Basically, this new drug tells the cancer to stop growing. This scientific breakthrough gives hope to colon cancer patients that are suffering from the disease. Colon cancer is a serious disease that afflicts many Americans each year. There are many ways to prevent the disease, so that people can save their lives. If people get regular checkups and lead a well-balanced diet, they can prevent the disease before it is too late.

Since the symptoms of colon cancer usually appear when the cancer is in its later stages, doing all those things can save lives. Now with the new drug out, colon cancer can hopefully be prevented and curable even in the later stages.

How can colon cancer be prevented?

Regular screening - especially after age 50 - is one of the best ways to prevent or detect colon cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests screening tests such as fecal occult blood tests (annually), stool DNA testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years), colonscopy (every 10 years), and CT colongraphy (every 5 years). These frequency recommendations depend, however, on a person's particular risk of colon cancer due to other risk factors. Some drugs may also reduce a person's risk of colon cancer. These include aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, and COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex.

In general, physicians recommend standard preventive measures such as keeping a healthy weight, exercising, and increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while decreasing saturated fat and red meat intake. In addition, people are recommended to limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.

•"Cancer." (2006). WHO Fact Sheet No. 297. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

•"Colon Cancer." (2008). Mayo clinic.com. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colon-cancer/DS00035

•"Colon Cancer Treatment." (2007). National Cancer Institute. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/colon/patient

•Lee, Dennis. "Colon Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)" (2007). Medicine net.com. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://www.medicinenet.com/colon_cancer/article.htm •Myers, Donna. (2008). "Overview of Colon Cancer Symptoms." About.com: Health. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://coloncancer.about.com/od/cancerprevention/a/Cancer_Symptoms.htm