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Learn The Facts About Colon Cancer Symptoms As Early Detection Saves Lives

Updated on February 26, 2012

Colon cancer is on the increase and has become the third most common cancer amongst men and women, with an estimated 102,900 new rectal cases and 51,370 deaths as a result of a combination of rectal and colon cancer in the United States in 2010.

Early Detection & Screening of Colon Cancer is Key to Saving Lives

If colon cancer is diagnosed and treated in its early stages a patient can be cured and survive for a long time. If the tumors are localized to the bowel it is thought that a patient has a possible 10 year survival rate, but if the tumors have burst through the colon and spread outside of the bowel to other organs in the body the survival rate is reduced, with less 5 percent of patients surviving five years.

That is why screening and early detection is necessary to prevent the high mortality rate. However, early detection may present some difficulty, mainly because the early stages of colon cancer does not produce any symptoms; therefore by the time any symptoms do appear it is likely that the cancer is in the late stages. So what do you do? Go to see your physician especially if you have a family history of colon cancer or you experience blood in your stools, chronic constipation, diarrhea or water stools, or constant back ache continually for 3 weeks.

However, there is some good news,with the advances made in technology doctors can through the use of a “virtual colonoscopy” screen, test and view a three-dimensional image of the colon for any lumps which may be cancerous. Brian E Harvey, M.D., a senior medical officer in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health believes the “Virtual colonoscopy has the potential the revolutionize how we screen for colon cancer”

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

In the early stages of colon cancer there are no symptoms.That is why regular screening which begins at 50 is so important . It is crucial to attend screening for colon polyps and lumps which can be benign as well as malignant, especially if you:

  • Have had polyps before
  • A family member has had polyps
  • A family member has had colon cancer
  • You’ve had uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50

Local symptoms that only affect the colon include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
  • Bright red or dark red blood in the stool.
  • Abdominal discomfort such as, bloating, gas pains and cramps.
  • Thin stools
  • A feeling that you have not emptied your bowels completely.

Systemic colon cancer symptoms

Are the second class of symptoms that affects the whole body and usually occur in the later stages. These symptoms include

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Unexplained extreme tiredness
  • Anemia; low red cell blood count or the lack of iron in your red blood cells.
  • Jaundice
  • Pain and night sweats. This is usually a sign that the colon cancer has reached stage 4 and is at a dangerous point in the disease.

If you experience any of the colon cancer symptoms listed above you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. Colon cancer is a disease that is easily curable if caught early, so if you are over 50 and meet any of the criterions above make sure you get screened early, and if you are under 50 but have a family history ot colon and rectal cancer you should also be screened.

Early detection of colon cancer is the key to survival.

Follow the Cancer News Blog for information, news on new treatments, and support from other cancer sufferers and survivors.


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