Colon cancer also known as colorectal cancer is cancer cells that are present in the long tube known as the large intestine and rectum. Some tumors found in this area are called polyps are not cancerous; however, tumors that are malignant are cancer. The polyps can be removed without the worry of spreading the disease, as they are not cancerous. Cancer of the colon or rectum on the other hand, can spread to other areas of the body and tissue. This occurs when cancer cells break away from the tumor and travel to other areas of the body, which is called metastasis, and can spread to the liver or the lungs. After metastasis occurs, the prognosis for a full recovery is dim.
The causes of Colon Cancer
As with practically all cancers, the exact causes are not known, however, risk factors that are present may help lead scientists to the answer. The risk factors for developing colon cancer include the following.
Individuals that eat a diet high in fat are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Those that eat a balanced diet and include such things as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables decrease their chances of developing colon cancer.
Physicians believe that untreated polyps develop into colon cancer. In the majority of cases, these polyps are benign; however, over years without being removed the cells can change due to chromosome damage, which can become cancerous.
Ulcerative colitis can be a cause of colon cancer. This disorder brings on inflammation to the inner lining of the colon. In the majority of individuals with ulcerative colitis their chances of colon cancer begins to increase after 8 to 10 years of living with the disorder. Research shows colon cancer and individuals with ulcerative colitis include after 10 years 2.5% had colon cancer, after 30 years the rate rose to 7.6%, and after 50 years, it had risen to 10.8%.
Past history of relatives with colon cancer increases the risk of this type of cancer. However, 80 percent of all patients do not have a family history of the disease.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Many people do not realize they have colon cancer due to the fact that the symptoms may not be present for many years after the development of the cancer cells. The symptoms can differ according to the location of the cancer or the tumor. The right colon is very large and in most cases, the symptoms are not apparent except for the possibility of becoming anemic due to iron deficiency due to the cancer. The left colon on the other hand is smaller and can cause partial or complete obstruction of the bowel bringing on constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and abdominal pain.
The main symptoms that are present with colon cancer include weakness, fatigue, change in bowel movements, shortness of breath, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulosis.