Colorectal cancers account for about eight percent of new cancer diagnoses. In recent years death rates have declined due to increased colonoscopy screening, polyp removal (preventing the progression of polyps into invasive cancer) and improved treatment methods.
Q: What is the colon?
A: The colon and rectum form a muscular tube called the large intestine or large bowel. Through a process called peristalsis, digested food moves from the stomach and small intestine into the colon. Once in the colon, all remaining water is absorbed into the body, forming solid waste(stool) which leaves the body through the anus.
Q: Am I at risk?
A: Colorectal cancer occurs most frequently in people over the age of 50. Colonic polyps, inflammatory bowel disease and a family history of colorectal cancer are factors of increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Common symptoms of colon cancer:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Blood in or on the stool
- Frequent gas pains
- General stomach discomfort
- A change in bowel habits
- A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Unexplained weight loss
Because these symptoms may be caused by other problems consult your Dr. for proper diagnosing and treatment.
Q: How is colon cancer detected?
A: There are many symptoms that your doctor will consider during your initial office visit. He may ask you about your personal and family history, perform a physical exam and other laboratory tests.
Patients should take an active role in the early detection of colorectal cancer.
- HAVE REGULAR CHECKUPS BEGINNING AT AGE 50:
- Have an annual fecal occult blood test.
- Have an initial sigmoidoscopy (exam of the rectum and lower colon) and one every three to five years thereafter.
Q: Do I have a choice of treatment?
A: There are several options for the treatment of colon cancer, depending on your age, the size and location of the tumor, the stage of the disease (i.e., whether it has spread to other organs) and your general health. You may also have concerns regarding the treatment process and potential side effects; therefore, it is essential for you and your doctor to discuss all available options leading to the development of a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your needs and circumstances.