Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancers.
Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers.
Early detection is essential for treating and surviving colon cancer. Therefore, it is very important to know its symptoms and causes.
Many clinics say it is not clearly understood what causes colon cancer. Cancer mainly forms when healthy cells in the colon become damaged. Healthy cells grow and divide as needed to keep the body functioning properly. However, when cancerous cells form, they continue to divide even when the body doesn’t need it. The buildup of the unnecessary cells ultimately leads to the creation of a tumor.
While the exact cause is unclear, there are risk factors that can increase the likeliness of a person developing colon cancer at some point in his or her life. Clinics indicate that the following gene mutations can increase the chances of colon cancer:
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). People with this condition are susceptible to colon cancer as well as other cancers. Generally, individuals with HNPCC are likely to develop colon cancer before they reach the age of 50.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). This rare condition causes people to develop numerous polyps along the lining of the colon. If these polyps are left untreated, people are at a much greater risk of developing cancer by the time they reach the age of 40.
Other risk factors:
- Over the age of 50
- Family history of colon cancer
- Intestinal issues
- Low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Alcohol consumption
- Radiation therapy
The most troubling thing about colon cancer is that it doesn’t always have symptoms. However, there are a few things you should watch out for.
Common signs include:
- Changes in bowel movement
- Dark blood in the stool
- Pain in the abdomen
- Abdominal bloating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the pelvis ( this is usually associated with late-stage cancer)
Treatment options vary depending on the size and location of the tumor as well the general health of the patient. Surgery is usually the most common treatment plan. However, chemotherapy can also be an option for prolonging a person’s life or helping reduce the likelihood of recurrence for people who are at high-risk.