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Colon CancerConditions
Overview

Colorectal cancer (CRC) originates in the colon and rectum, both parts of the large intestine. It is a common and potentially deadly cancer. About 4 percent of men and women will get colon cancer in their lifetime. What makes it challenging is that it can grow without showing any symptoms for a long time. By the time symptoms appear, it may be very advanced and have spread to other body parts.

Symptoms
  • Abdominal discomfort, pain, cramping, or gas
  • Blood in stool or abnormal bleeding from the rectum
  • Persistent changes in bowel movements lasting more than a week or two
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Remember, these symptoms could also relate to other health issues. Even the slightest sign should prompt a doctor's visit.

Testing
  • Colonoscopy: A tube with a camera examines the colon, samples suspicious lesions, and removes pre-cancerous polyps for analysis.
  • Stool tests: Check for hidden blood or genetic material from polyps/cancer.
  • Imaging: Scans like CT can also spot potential issues.

The American Cancer Society suggests colonoscopies every 10 years from age 45, with variations based on risk factors. Your NYGA doctor will guide you on the best screening choice.

Treatment

The good news is that CRC can often be prevented or detected early. Most CRC starts as polyps, which doctors can remove before they turn into cancer. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • "Biological" therapy: Smart molecules targeting cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy

Although colon cancer is being diagnosed in younger adults, recent advances are improving survival rates. Personalized therapies, combined with surgery and chemotherapy, are making a difference.