Colon cancer forms in the lining of the colon. Rectal cancer forms in the lining of the rectum, the last several inches of the large intestine terminating in the anus. Collectively, these diseases are called colorectal cancer.
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in men and women. Each year about 150,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer, and 50,000 people will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Though scientists are unsure exactly what causes colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified.
More important risk factors include: Age over 45, Precancerous colon polyps, Family history of colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Many cases of colon or colorectal cancer have no symptoms or warning signs until the cancer has advanced. However there are some symptoms that may indicate colon cancer, but these symptoms are often confused for other conditions such as hemorrhoids.
Colon Cancer Signs and Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Bloody stool
- Diarrhea, constipation, or other changes in bowel functions
- Narrower than normal stools
- Unexplained anemia
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bloating, fullness, or cramps
You should consult with a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms and are unsure of the cause.
Colon cancer is highly treatable when discovered early. Depending on an individual’s medical and family history, colonoscopies are typically recommended every one, three, five, or 10 years.