Colon cancer is the cancer of colon, as also known as the large intestine. Much like other forms of cancer, color cancer occurs when clumps of cells are formed on the large intestine. While these clumps, which are known adenomatous polyps in medical terms, are non-cancerous, some of the polyps can eventually lead to colon cancers. Often it is hard to diagnose the presence of polyps without diagnostic tests, and the symptoms aren’t always obvious. Color cancer can be treated, if detected early, which is why screening tests are suggested by doctors. Here’s what you must know before visiting a colon cancer specialist.
Symptoms to note
Some colon cancer patients can have significant changes in bowel movements, which can include loose motions or diarrhea. Others may have constipation. Talk to a doctor if bowel movements don’t get better in three weeks or so. Other signs include blood in the stool, dark colored stool, and abdominal discomfort. Patients can have gas, pain or swelling in the abdomen that may not subside. Fatigue, weakness and unexplained weight loss are some of the other signs. Sadly, there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and that even highlights the importance of getting screened.
Getting screened, causes and more
Doctors usually recommend every person over the age of 50 to go for a colon cancer screening. Frequent screenings might be recommended if the patient has a family history of cancer. It is not yet clear as what causes colon cancer, but doctors know that colon cancer can occur when cells in the large intestine have errors in the DNA – which is practically what happens in every form of cancer. Inherited gene mutations can increase the risk in certain people, but there are only a few such cases known. In short, it is not necessary that you will get colon cancer if it runs in your family, but such factors do increase the risk.
Considerable number of people diagnosed with colon cancer are aged 50 or above, but younger people can get it too. It is also known that African-Americans are at a higher risk of this condition than others, which is why screenings are often recommended early. If you have a history of colorectal polyps or other problems of the large intestine, you may need to be more careful. Patients who have suffered from colon cancer in the past also need frequent screenings.