Like so many other cancers, colon cancer (also known as colorectal cancer or bowel cancer) can strike quickly and in deadly fashion and is considered the third most common form of cancer. There are nearly 50,000 new cases each year and people 50 and above are at high risk.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is the result of abnormal cell growth in the colon that can lead to organ system failure and spread to other parts of the body. It is considered as a subset of colorectal cancer (CRC) or bowel cancer, and often the terms are used interchangeably.
Although the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, the risk factors do increase due to the following reasons:
- A family history of polyps
- A family history of colorectal cancer
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Inactivity and obesity
- Diet high in red meat and fat, and low in calcium, folate, and fiber
The symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss
- Irregular bowel movements
- Persistent abdominal discomfort like cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling of not being able to empty your bowels completely
But these are often considered symptoms of another health issue, like being overworked, or suffering from hemorrhoids, so people often forego screening. Unfortunately, while controlling and eliminating the cancer while it is contained in the colon is possible, survival and remission rates drop dramatically if colorectal cancer is allowed to spread.