Cancer can attack just about any part of the body. The best defense you can have against cancer is early detection and that’s one of the main reasons the Abraham Family and Geriatric Medicine team likes to stress the importance of regular screening for everyone, whether you feel healthy or not! With certain conditions, symptoms are obvious and then there are those conditions that have quiet symptoms that may not present themselves until after the infection or disease has extensively spread. According to the American Cancer Society’s latest statistics, colon cancer is the third most common cancer that affects both men and women (this doesn’t include skin cancers) and it’s predicted that 95,270 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year alone. Here’s why we are firm believers in annual exams, the importance of colon cancer awareness, and what you should know!
Cancer that develops in the colon is commonly referred as colorectal cancer and begins as a growth on the lining of the colon, called a polyp. Not all polyps become cancer, but for some, abnormal cells form into cancerous cells within the polyp that can eventually grow and spread to other parts of the body. Colon cancer typically develops among geriatric patients 50 years old and up, but those with a family history of colon cancer are at higher risk of inheriting the same gene mutation. As of now, we’re not exactly sure the cause of this specific cancer but symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Blood in your stool or rectal bleeding
- Cramping, gas, or consistent abdominal discomfort
- Diarrhea, constipation, or an inconsistent change in your stool that lasts for several weeks
- Weakness, fatigue, or rapid weight loss
Patients with a history of polyps, chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, or diabetes, have a family history of colon cancer, live a sedentary lifestyle, or regularly engage in smoking, consuming alcohol, or have a low-fiber, high-fat diet are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
The three main types of treatments available include minimally-invasive surgery (for early stages) and surgery for invasive and advanced cases of colon cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. At the very core, most patients diagnosed with colon cancer undergo some type of surgery and treatment plan to help remove the cancerous polyps and reduce the chances of further spreading – this is all dependent on the stage of your developing cancer (new cases versus cases where cancer has gone unnoticed for a good bit of time and already spread to other parts of the body). Your specific treatment plan will come after your doctor has performed all proper medical screening for colon cancer, diagnosed your stage, and devises a recommended approach to treatment.
If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, we recommend reaching out to your doctor as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of colon cancer or to get started on treatment of your colon cancer. Catching any form of cancer at its earliest stages of development is the best defense a patient can have at getting treatment started early and increasing the effectiveness your treatment. If you’re not sure the recommended testing, utilize your time during wellness visits to get a better understanding of important screenings that we recommend as you mature and to discuss if your family’s history increases your risk of life-threatening conditions, like colon cancer. To get started on taking control of your health and safety, don’t hesitate to contact Abraham Family Medicine at 770-978-1331. Stay connected with our team for the latest family and geriatric medicine news and updates by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!