Colon cancer is when a tumor forms on the inner wall of the large intestine. Often, colon cancer begins as a small non-cancerous growth in the colon called a polyp, but over several years, can turn cancerous. Currently, it is the third most prevalent cancer in males and the fourth most prevalent in females.
It is important for adults over the age of 50 to have screenings to detect polyps, as their chances of developing this type of cancer increase with age.
Unfortunately, many patients do not experience any symptoms of colon cancer until the disease spreads. However, when symptoms do appear, some of the most common ones are blood in the stool, constipation or diarrhea that lasts for longer than four weeks, feeling as though the bowel is never empty, stomach pain, weight loss, and fatigue.
Many of these symptoms are not specific to colon cancer and can be attributed to a number of conditions, making it imperative for a patient to see a doctor if they experience these problems.
Treatment depends on how far the disease has progressed. However, most patients typically require surgery so that the part of the large intestine containing the tumor can be removed and resectioned. If the patient has a more advanced stage of cancer, additional treatments such as chemotherapy may be required to try and kill any cancerous cells that may have spread to other parts of the body before the surgery.
Survival rates for patients in stage I of the disease are as high as 90 percent. This percentage decreases as the cancer advances, with a 55 to 80 percent survival rate in stage II, 40 percent in stage III, and 10 percent in stage IV.
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