Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. in men and women, and it’s estimated that more than 105,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, with more than 50,000 deaths only in 2022.
While mortality rates have decreased somewhat in recent years, it’s still crucial that patients do everything they can to prevent colon cancer and detect it early. In this article, we’ll explore the causes and symptoms of colon cancer, as well as some risk factors that increase your chances of developing colon cancer.
What is colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon or rectum. These organs are part of your large intestine, the part of the digestive system located between the stomach and anus.
Like all cancers, colon cancer begins when cancer-causing mutations begin to grow in an uncontrolled way. These mutations allow the cells to start growing and dividing in an unregulated manner. Colon cancer usually begins as polyps; these polyps grow and expand, causing blockages within the colon. Over time, the polyps become cancerous.
If the cancer is allowed to spread, it can begin to spread into nearby tissues and organs. From there, it can spread to other body parts, such as the liver, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones.
Early detection and treatment are the best ways to fight colon cancer because it is treatable when detected in the earliest stages. To detect colon cancer, you need to be aware of the symptoms, which include blood in the stool, persistent abdominal pain, weight loss, and a change in your bowel habits, which can be either constipation or diarrhea. However, sometimes symptoms appear very late in the course of the disease, and that’s why it is important to screen for colon cancer, even if you think you’re healthy.