Colon cancer is a highly dangerous and extremely common form of cancer affecting millions of people around the world. It is the third most common form of cancer and although its rate of incidence is decreasing in the US, it still poses a huge risk. Americans have a 1 in 20 chance of acquiring colon cancer.
The risk of incidence starts to increase after the age of 40 and does so considerably after 65. Both men and women have similar probability of acquiring the disease but the after the age of 50, the risk increases for men.
Colon cancer occurs in rectum or the large intestine. It forms in the last 20-25 cm of the colon and since it usually affects both the anus and the rectum, it is referred to as Colorectal cancer. However, cancer in the anus is uncommon. If it does occur, it usually occurs in the outer part of the anus for men and the inner part for women.
Colon cancer can be caused by various products but most of these are related to dietary fat, particularly animal fat. The process of digestion which metabolizes this fat produces carcinogens (cancer causing agents), which irritate the lining of the intestine and thus lead to the formation of polyps (small outgrowth) which slowly develop into cancer.
There are several means of detecting colon cancer but it should be kept in mind that many colon cancers do not have any symptoms.
The symptoms include :
Abdominal pain : If a person experiences unusual pain in the lower abdomen brought on without any specific reason, he should get it checked.
Blood in the stool : This is usually a very serious condition and may be caused by an injury or problems in the digestive tract as well. It is therefore necessary to report it to a physician.
Diarrhea : Irregular bowel patterns can also indicate a risk of Colon cancer.
Intestinal obstruction : Any obstruction which reduces or blocks the path of faeces is a significant symptom of colon cancer as well.
Weight loss : Unexplained weight loss can also be a symptom.
It should be noted that Colon cancer does not only display these symptoms and there may be other factors which may vary the symptoms.