The second leading cause of death for men and women in the United States is colon cancer. Fortunately, this is a disease that can be successfully identified and treated, but screening is essential. Let’s take a closer look at what colorectal cancer is, the symptoms, screening, and treatment.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer develops in your colon or rectum. Typically, this condition occurs as a precancerous growth, referred to as a polyp. Polyps grow on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, eventually developing into a malignant growth. Smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, as well as heredity are all risk factors for colorectal cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
Signs of colon cancer can be similar to the symptoms of other gastrointestinal conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or inflammatory bowel disease. If you experience unexpected weight loss, a significant change in bowel habits, unrelenting abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or prolonged cramping, you should consult a gastroenterologist.
What is Colon Cancer Screening?
Colorectal cancer screening can reduce the chance of death by over 60%. If you are over 40 years of age, an annual colonoscopy can identify any potential cancerous growths and polyps. You should be screened annually even if you have no symptoms. It is common for symptoms not to occur until polyps or cancer are beyond the early stages of treatment.
How is Colon Cancer Treated?
After a colon cancer diagnosis cancer there several treatment options.
- Local Treatments – The ideal treatment for treating early stage and smaller cancers is directly treating the tumor itself, without impacting the rest of your body.
- Systematic Treatments – Drugs can be used to treat colorectal cancer as they reach the cancer cells throughout the body. This includes chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
- Gastroenterologist – This specialist treats GI and digestive disorders.
- Surgical Oncologist – This specialist uses surgery to treat cancer.
- Medical Oncologist – This specialist treats cancer with radiation therapy.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, have not been screened, or have a family history of colorectal cancer, the expert, experienced staff at Lane Gastroenterology is here to help.