Quick Facts on Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in America, but the good news is that it can be detected early and defeated! Here are 10 facts about colon cancer from oncologist, Dr. Benjamin Gatewood!

1. Colon cancer is the third leading cancer in the United States.

2. Most often seen in people over the age of 50 years but affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups.

3. Of the cancers that affect both men and women, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

4. Risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colon cancer or polyps, and genetic syndromes such as Lynch Syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.

5. Lifestyle factors may also play a role. Sedentary lifestyles, diets low in fruits and fiber, obesity, alcohol and smoking also may increase the risk of colon cancer.

6. Screening saves lives. Regular screening should begin at age 50 for those at an average risk. However, screening should begin earlier in life for those with a close family member with colon cancer, those with inflammatory bowel disease or those with genetic syndromes that increase the risk of colon cancers.

7. Colon cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum that can be removed during a colonoscopy before they turn into cancer.

8. Different screening methods include fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy beginning at age 50. Talk to your doctor about which is right for you.

9. Symptoms of colon cancer include blood in the stool, changes in stool size, persistent stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, and changes in bowel habits (unrelenting diarrhea for example).

10. If caught early, colon cancer is curable so be vigilant about screening and report any symptoms to your doctor.