Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Colorectal Cancer Basics
The colon is an important organ in your body's digestive system. The colon, also known as the large intestine, consists of a long, thick tube that:
Cancer of the colon and rectum called colorectal cancer occurs when a growth in the lining of the colon or rectum becomes malignant, or cancerous. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. However, if caught early, colorectal cancer can be cured. It's important for you to understand your risks for colorectal cancer, the symptoms of colorectal cancer and screening tests that can detect cancerous growths. With simple preventive steps, you can also reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Colorectal cancer usually develops from pre-cancer polyps called adenomatous polyps. A polyp is a grape-like growth on the inside wall of the colon or rectum. Polyps grow slowly over many years. Most people do not develop polyps until after the age of 50 if they have an average risk for colorectal cancer (see below).
Some polyps become cancerous, others do not. In order to reduce the likelihood of colorectal cancer, it is important to get screened to find out if you have polyps and to have them removed if you do.
With regular colorectal cancer screening, more than one-third of colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided.
Along with regular screening, healthy lifestyle choices are the best current preventive measures against colorectal cancer. Here's how you can help reduce your risk:
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer may begin with no symptoms at all. However, over time, there are a number of warning signs that can occur such as:
What Should I Do if I Have These Symptoms?
Call your gastroenterologist and schedule an appointment. He or she will ask questions about your symptoms and determine the best diagnostic test for you.
To help you understand and manage your condition, the AGA Institute provides you with the following information, designed to give you some basic facts, to help you better understand your condition and to serve as a starting point for discussions with your doctor.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
You may be at average or increased risk for colorectal cancer, depending on your age and family medical history.
You are at average risk for colorectal cancer if you:
Increased Risk Factors
You are at increased risk for colorectal cancer if you have:
Gender Is Not a Risk Factor
There is a common misperception that women are less likely to get colorectal cancer than men, but men and women are equally affected by colorectal cancer.
In fact, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in women, behind breast and lung cancer. More than 71,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and nearly 26,000 die from the disease.
American Gastroenterological Association. (April 23, 2010). Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Treatment.
From http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/colorectal-cancer web.