The appearance of colon cancer symptoms often go untreated because people assume they're from something else. For instance, bloody stools are often associated with hemorrhoids. Larger tumors that block the colon can result in constipation or abdominal pain, which one may assume is a reaction to food eaten recently. If the bowel becomes perforated or leaks, then this may cause vomiting, sudden weight loss, thin/ribbon-like stools and/or frequent bowel movements. The average duration of symptoms from onset to diagnosis is about 14 weeks, although the cancer can move from polyps to metastatic colon cancer slowly over the span of several years.
The causes of colon cancer symptoms are quite unpleasant. Small tumors develop along the walls of the colon, which causes seeping and bleeding. This may cause blood to be mixed with bowel movements. If carcinoid tumors grow large enough, then one's belly may stick out and the abdomen may hurt severely. In rare cases, the bowel may tear or contents of the bowel may leak into the pelvis area, causing inflammation, infection, weight loss and vomiting. If detected early through a colonoscopy procedure, which should be done every 10 years after 50, this deadly cancer is 93% curable.
Like many other cancers, the unfortunate reality of colon cancer symptoms is that there usually are none until you're dead. This #3 killer preys on both men and women equally, causing more than 49,000 deaths each year. Many people are embarrassed to request a screening or admit to colon cancer symptoms, but this type of cancer is highly curable if detected in the earliest stages. In reality, the tests are unpleasant but pale in comparison to the pain of cancer. Do not wait for the symptoms to deliver you a death sentence; get screened, exercise, eat healthy and enjoy your long, happy life.
According to the American Cancer Society, the leading causes of colon cancer include colon polyps, cancer elsewhere in the body, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, a history of breast cancer or a family history of colon cancer. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Center and John Hopkins Medical Center have identified a genetic link for colon cancer, which is a defect in glycosylation enzymes. Other contributing factors include a poor diet (high-fat, low-fiber, red meat-filled diets) and smoking cigarettes. Also, 90% of those who have colon cancer are over 50, which is when screening should begin.
Some of colon cancer symptoms arrive as abdominal pain in the lower abdomen, bloody stools, diarrhea, constipation, irregular bowel movements, narrow stools, anemia and sudden weight loss. However, colon cancer can be detected before symptoms even occur, when it is usually curable. Some colon cancer screening tests include a sigmoidoscopy, a fecal occult blood test, a fecal DNA test, a virtual colonoscopy and a standard colonoscopy. The American Cancer Society recommends beginning these tests at age 50, since 90% of colon cancer is identified after this age.
Screening of colon cancer symptoms can be done even when individuals feel fine. In fact, it is recommended for anyone over the age of 50. Patients will usually be given a fecal occult blood test, a sigmoidoscopy and/or a colonoscopy to look for polyps, which are abnormal cell growths that may eventually develop into cancerous tumors. If the doctor identifies colon cancer of some form, then more testing will be done to determine the extent of the cancer. For instance, Stage 0 is cancer on the innermost layer of the large intestine. Later, if left unchecked, the cancer can spread to the middle layers (stage I), through the muscle wall (stage II), into the lymph nodes (stage III) and to other organs (stage IV).
The most common treatment of colon cancer symptoms is the removal of polyps with a colonoscope for Stage 0. Stages I, II and III may involve laparoscopic surgery or more extensive surgery to remove cancerous parts of the colon and reattach the healthy portions. Stage III and IV include chemotherapy to kill the mobile colon cancer cell lymph nodes and radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue. Advanced cancer treatments may even include cryotherapy/freezing the cancer cells or ablation/burning the cancer cells.
The prognosis for treatment of colon cancer symptoms is really good if caught early. The five-year survival rate for patients in Stage I is 93%. Other survival rates are as follows; 70% for Stage II, 56% for Stage III and 7% for Stage IV. As one can see, the results vary drastically, depending on how early colon cancer symptoms are spotted. Once the cancer has metastasized and spread throughout the body to other organs, like the liver, lungs, bladder, uterus and prostate, it can be very hard to eradicate. Regular screenings should begin at age 50 to ensure the best colon cancer treatment and the brightest prognosis.
If treatment of colon cancer symptoms is not sought, then the ramifications can be fatal. Metastatic colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, following breast/prostate cancer and lung cancer. What begins as harmless abnormal cells called polyps can develop over the years into cancerous lymph nodes and tumors that travel throughout the body, spreading to other tissues and organs, killing the host. Even if preliminary cancer is detected and removed, there is some chance of a colon cancer recurrence, so screenings will need to be done every few years.
Over the past 15 years, increased awareness of colon cancer symptoms and screenings has led to a significant improvement in five-year-survival-rates. Most Americans realize that once they turn 50 they should begin colonoscopy screening, even if they have had no symptoms at all. Despite the progress, there are still over 49,000 colon cancer deaths each year and a whopping 50% of individuals who are over 50 admit that they have never had a colonoscopy. Currently, new tests are being developed that are less invasive and may increase the likelihood of early screenings.
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