Unfortunately, not many of us are aware about colon cancer, which is the cancer of the large intestine, also known as the colon. Majority of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and it is now an established factor that colon cancer is related to age too, although younger people can get it too. Colon cancer has been liked to adenomatous polyps, and to diagnose and detect the same, getting screened is important. The signs and symptoms of colon cancer or adenomatous polyps are not very prominent at the early stages, which further stresses on the need for screening for polyps.
Causes and symptoms
What causes colon cancer is not fully known for all cases, but doctors believe that healthy cells of the large intestine can have DNA errors, which eventually causes the condition. Sadly, the signs and symptoms are often confused with other stomach problems, but you should keep an eye on these aspects.
- Change in bowel habits. Some people often have diarrhea, constipation or both intermittently and often frequently.
- Blood in stool
- Abdominal pain
- Discomfort in the lower belly
- Weakness and tiredness
- Unintended weight loss
Should I see a doctor?
As mentioned, the signs of colon cancer can be confusing. However, if you see sudden and persistent changes in your bowel movements, do not ignore such signs. Blood in the stool or unexplained rectal bleeding must also be considered as a potential sign. See a colon cancer specialist, if you have a family history of the disease or have had polyps and colorectal cancer in the past. Anyone over the age of 50 should get screened for colon cancer at least once.
Am I at risk of colon cancer?
As mentioned above, colon cancer has been linked to age. African-Americans are more likely to get the condition, while the personal and family history of the patient also work as risk factors. Chronic inflammatory diseases, diet factors, lack of an active lifestyle, diabetes and obesity are known risk factors, besides alcohol abuse and smoking. People who follow a high-fat and low-fiber diet are at a higher risk of both colon cancer and rectal cancer. Excessive consumption of red meat and processed meats must be avoided, as well. People who have exposed their abdomen to radiation therapy for treatment of other cancers are also at a higher risk.
If you have any signs mentioned above for more than a week, don’t delay in seeking medical help.