Are you concerned about colon cancer but know little about it? At Associates in Colon and Rectal Surgery in Salt Lake City, UT, our board-certified gastroenterologists/surgeons prioritize patient education. Here's what you should know about this potentially deadly illness.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a malignancy affecting the anus, rectum and large intestine, or colon. The National Cancer Institute reports that over 53,000 Americans perished from colon cancer this calendar year alone. However, when colon cancer is detected early, life is prolonged, and people can achieve full remission.
Who gets colon cancer?
Both men and women do, and age factors into susceptibility. At Associates in Colon and Rectal Surgery in Salt Lake City, our physicians recommend a routine colonoscopy for individuals age 50 and up.
Colonoscopy is a visual inspection of the entire length of the large intestine. Using a thin lighted scope, the doctor takes real-time video and still images of the interior of the colon, looking for bleeding and structural abnormalities called polyps.
Polyps are small, benign growths that may eventually develop into cancer. In fact, all colon cancer comes from polyps, but not all polyps are malignant. As such, colonoscopy reveals their presence, and the doctor uses a small snare to remove them for biopsy.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
Alarmingly covert, many people have no symptoms until their cancer is very advanced. That's why routine colonoscopies are so important.
However, when symptoms are obvious, they may include:
- Blood with a bowel movement
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Abdominal bloating
People who smoke, drink too much alcohol, eat a low-fiber diet, and are sedentary have an increased risk for developing this cancer. Some colon cancers appear to run in families as well.
What you can do
Modify your risk factors by consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercising, and refraining from cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption. Get a screening colonoscopy at age 50 and at the intervals your gastroenterologist deems necessary. In general, people who have polyps of any type require screening more frequently than those individuals who do not have polyps.
To learn more about colon cancer, its symptoms, and detection, please contact Associates in Colon and Rectal Surgery in Salt Lake City, UT, for a consultation. Knowledge and vigilance are real lifesavers. Call the office at (801) 263-1621.