What Is Colon Cancer?

Cancer of the colon which is sometimes referred to as colon or colorectal cancer begins life, initially as a small benign polyp in the digestive tract, that over a period of time mutates and becomes a cancerous tumor.  As the cancer cells multiply they invade and destroy surrounding tissues, eventually breaking away to form new tumors in other organs of the body; this migration of cells is known as metastasis. For example; a cancerous colon cell may break away and develop in either the lungs or the liver.

 

The Colon

Is made up of three sections, the ascending, transverse and descending (also known as the sigmoid colon) colon. These parts and the rectum make up the body’s gastrointestinal system that digests, processes and eliminates food, through a muscular tube over 5 feet long.  The majority of  colon cancers start in the sigmoid colon just above the rectum.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is extremely prevalent in the western world. It is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year over 140,00.00 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 die from the disease.

However, if there is anything good that can be said about cancer,  it is that colon cancer amongst all other cancers is one of the most preventable and treatable if detected early.  It is just a case of changing your diet and lifestyle to one that involves regular exercise and consumption of foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, processed foods, meats and alcohol.

 

Early Screening & Detection

However, despite the fact that it can be prevented there is still a high death rate from colon cancer because most people are asymptomatic for many years. The reason for this is that precancerous polyps can take up to 10 years before they change from benign to malignant. They key to survival is early detection and screening. Statistics show that more than 90% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer in the early stages survive more than five years.

 

Can Colon Cancer Be Cured?

It appears from patient records that colon cancer in the very early stages can often be cured by removing the polyp during a colonoscopy, which is a simple screening procedure that looks into the colon or large intestine as it is sometimes called.

More advanced cancerous tumors usually require surgical removal followed by chemotherapy in many cases.

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Resources:

Dubois D. (2011). Learn the facts about colon cancer symptoms as early detection saves lives – Hubpages.com
Ricci-Vitiani, DG Lombardi, E Pilozzi, M Biffon.  (2006) Identification and expansion of human coloncancer-initiating cells – nature.com
Wilkinson J. (2011) ‘What is Colon Cancer?’ About.com guide

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