Colon Cancer: Causes and Symptoms

In 2018, the American Cancer Society approximated 93,090 new cases of colon cancer would be diagnosed, resulting in death for 49,700 of those people due to the disease.

Colon Cancer and Polyp

Colon Cancer is The Most Preventable Type of Cancer!

Whilst these numbers might seem high, you may be shocked to know that this is a decrease in the number of deaths caused by colon or rectal cancer. This is attributed to new screening procedures which allow the polyps to be detected and removed before they can turn into colon cancer.

Additionally, due to better diet and exercise being practiced by many, fewer cases are diagnosed as colon or rectal cancer than ever — poor exercise habits and unhealthy diet options are two major risk factors which lead to colon cancer.

The American Cancer Society says that the risk factors are:

  • 9/10 diagnoses are in those 50 years of age and older.
  • Those with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can inflame ulcers lining the colon. They should therefore test for colon cancer early in life and regularly.
  • A history of polyps, whether they are large, there are many or even if they have been removed raises the risk of colon cancer.
  • A history of colon or rectal cancer in the family produces a greater risk of the disease.
  • A diet rich in fats and low in fibre leads to increased risk.
  • People who do not get enough exercise or are obese are at greater risk.
  • Smoking and heavy drinking of alcohol also leads to a higher risk of colon cancer.

It is important to note that during the early stages of colon cancer symptoms often do not present.

However, as colorectal cancer progresses, the American Cancer Society lists the following symptoms that may present:

  • Blood in the faeces;
  • Rectal bleeding;
  • Cramps and pain in the stomach;
  • Constipation, diarrhoea and disturbance in bowel movements;
  • Signs of tiredness and weakness;
  • The urge to have a bowel movement which does not pass even after you do;
  • A steady change in bowel movements such as narrow stool, constipation or diarrhoea over a few days.

Nevertheless, cancer treatments are steadily improving. Surgery for both colon cancer and the removal of polyps and colon based tumours has cured many patients. However, chemotherapy and radiation is still required by most.