Understanding Colon Cancer

Statistically, colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths today. Estimated to cause as many as 655,000 deaths annually, it is thought that the cancer originated from glandular growths known as adenomatous polyps. These are generally benign and can develop into cancer over a period of time.

Colon cancer can be diagnosed and monitored by any of the following: digital rectal exam, fecal occult blood test, and endoscopy. For the last one, there are two kinds of diagnosis that can be done: sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. As sigmoidoscopy can only check the buildup of polyps, colonoscopy can check polyps and even remove the cancer as well.

Symptoms of colon cancer

Colorectal cancer or large bowel cancer, as it is also called, develops within the rectum, colon or appendix. It is also vaguely recognized through symptoms of fatigue and weight loss. However, more symptoms will appear if the tumor appears near the anus. The following are the cancer’s symptoms:

  • Change of bowel movement: either constipation or diarrhea
  • Tenesmus (the feeling that defecation was incomplete)
  • Stools change in appearance (stools either with blood or mucus)
  • Bloating, bowel pains or vomiting feces-like matter tumor in the abdomen
  • Hematuria or blood in the urine and pneumaturia or air in the urine (caused by cancer invading the bladder)
  • Smelly vaginal discharge ( caused by cancer invading the vagina)
  • Lack of appetite resulting to unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia (appearing through signs of dizziness, palpitations and fatigue)
  • Jaundice
  • Right abdominal pain
  • Blood clotting in veins and arteries

Risk factors on colon cancer

There are a lot of risk factors for colon cancer. Age, a history of cancer, diet, smoking and drinking alcohol, physical inactivity and an exposure to viruses are some of the main risk factors in which a person may acquire colorectal cancer.

As it is hereditary, cancerous growths may also be acquired through other means like having a long bout with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, development of adenomatuos polyps, and estrogen exposure through oral contraceptives.