What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a serious condition that affects the colon, the main part of your large intestine between your small intestine and your rectum.
The inner lining of the colon sometimes develops polyps, which are small tumors. Polyps are common, and around a quarter of people over 50 are likely to have one or more colorectal polyps.
Most of these polyps are benign, which means they won’t develop into cancerous growths. However, at least one type of colorectal polyp has a link to cancer.
What causes colon cancer?
The precise cause of colon cancer isn’t fully understood as yet, but research indicates you’re more likely to develop colon cancer if you have any of the following risk factors.
- Personal or family history of having colon polyps or colon cancer
- Having ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- History of pancreatic, breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
- Certain inherited medical conditions such as juvenile polyposis
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
- Excessive exposure to chlorine or asbestos.
- Smoking and high levels of alcohol consumption
The role of diet in colon cancer is thought to be significant, but as yet there is no definitive proof as to which foods can increase the risk of colon cancer. What is known is that people who have a diet high in fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop colon cancer.
What treatments are available for colon cancer?
The treatment the Gastroenterology Associates of Western Colorado team recommends depends on which stage cancer you have. Early detection of polyps enables the team to remove them before they fully develop, but if colon cancer is at a more advanced stage, options include:
- Ablation and embolization
- Targeted drug treatments
Colon cancer that spreads into surrounding tissues, organs, and the lymph nodes, is far more difficult to treat than a localized tumor, and five-year survival rates can be as low as 11%. However, if diagnosed before it has a chance to spread, colon cancer responds well to treatment, with five-year survival rates as high as 90%.
The best way to prevent colon cancer is to undergo regular colonoscopy screening tests with the team at Gastroenterology Associates of Western Colorado. They have the expertise and advanced technology in place to diagnose and treat malignant polyps before the cancer spreads and know how to make patients feel comfortable and at ease.
Request a screening appointment online or by calling Gastroenterology Associates of Western Colorado at (970) 245-0990