INTRODUCTION: Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine also known as the colon, the lower part of your digestive system. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and the leading cause of deaths from cancer among non-smokers.
It is, in almost all cases, a treatable disease IF caught early. Truth: When colon cancer is caught early, it has a 95 percent survival rate. It may be nutritionally based. For example, the incidence is much higher in North America than in China, and the Chinese who migrate to North America have a higher incidence.
EARLY: Most colorectal cancers are predictable by early diagnosis and screening. In fact, screening prevents more deaths due to early detection than breast or prostate cancer screening. Other research is looking at multiple genes involved in colon cancer and at improving screening techniques so more cancers can be detected early.
This includes checking for markers in blood, stool or urine that might provide an easier screening procedure for detecting early signs of colon cancer. In general, when treatment begins at an early stage, greater than 90% of patients survive at least 5 yrs after their diagnosis. However, only about 39 percent of colon cancer is found at an early stage.
SYMPTOMS: Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer within the colon or rectum, though there may be no symptoms at all. Symptoms of colon cancer can include severe abdominal pain, blood in the stool or rectal bleeding, unexplained loss of weight, or major changes in bowel habits (recurrent constipation or diarrhea).
In fact, the most common sign is no signs at all, says Emina Huang, MD. But once these symptoms start to develop, it may be a signal of more advanced disease. Fully half of people diagnosed after symptoms start will die. Finding colon cancer before symptoms develop greatly improves the chance of survival.
CONCLUSION: There is no question that the earlier the cancer is found, the more likely the patient can be cured with surgery. Although the cause is yet unknown, there is evidence that the majority of these cancers arise from polyps (benign intestinal tumors).
It has been well demonstrated that if colon cancer is found in the earliest stages, the cure rate could be improved to 90 percent.
About the Author: