A Guide to Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs in the bowel, colon and rectum, and is the second most common type of terminal cancer in the United States. With regular screening, the illness can be avoided as there are signs in the form of small growths, referred to as   polyps  which appear in the colon. How can the disease be detected? Through the use of regular screening, cancer of the colon can be detected using diagnostic tests. To prevent the instances of the sickness, the removal of  polyps , which are small lumps of cells within the colon; colon cancer is one of the slowest growing cancers. There are various testing options available, which range based on factors such as; age, medical history and the comfort level of the patient.

 Polyps  are often the precursors to the disease but not always an indicator to the long illness that is developing.  Polyps  are often in the shape of mushrooms, flat and larger  polyps  are associated with most cases of the illness. There are common types of  polyps : hyperplastic  polyps  and adenomatous  polyps . Hyperplastic  polyps  are often less than 5mm in length and are  polyps  that rarely become malignant. The latter are more likely to become cancerous as they grow; these cells are different from hyperplastic cells. The larger that a  polyp  grows, the higher the chances that the  polyp  is going to develop into cancer. When the diameter of a  polyp  grows larger than 10mm, these chances are increased greatly.

What are the risk factors for the sickness? The disease is more prevalent and patients are at a higher risk if there is a family history of the disease. Those without a family history, but over the age of fifty should receive annual colon cancer screening. Nine out of ten patients who are diagnosed with the long illness are aged fifty and over. For men, the chances of developing the illness are one in seventeen, for women, this number decreases to chances of one in seventeen. What types of tests are available for colon cancer screening? Diagnostic tests such as a colonoscopy or barium enema are recommended for patients every five to ten years, combined with an occult stool sample test completed on an annual basis. It is important that anyone in remission from the disease, or who has symptoms in the past have yearly screening for colon cancer. Early detection is essential in diagnosis and effective treatment. Other risk factors include those who have suffered from inflammatory bowel disease in the past, or those who have evidence of  polyps  in their testing. This combined with screening for those patients that have cases of the disease within their immediate family should conduct screening on a regular basis to ensure that cases are caught early.

Interestingly enough, African Americans have higher instances of the illness than other races. It is important to screen at the age of forty-five, rather than age of fifty – to ensure that the cancer is detected and treated early enough. A colonoscopy is recommended as cases are predominantly in the upper portion of the colon, other tests may find this difficult to diagnose.