Colon Cancer

The colon, also known as the large intestine, is the lowest part of the digestive system. Its function is to absorb water and salt from solid wastes (food left over) and then get rid of these after all nutrients have been extracted. A problem that will affect the colon can occur, however, if the growth of the large intestine cells gets out of control. When this happens, the specific resulting problem is colon cancer.

Colon cancers usually start from what is called adenomatous polyps – small, non-cancerous tumors that form on the large intestine’s inner walls. These polyps can become malignant colon cancers over time, though, if these are not removed during a procedure called colonoscopy – when a doctor looks at the intestine’s inner lining.

When malignant tumors grow, it can metastasize, that is travel through the blood and spread to other parts of the body, and invade and destroy other healthy tissues. In 2016, the American Cancer Society estimated 95,270 new cases of colon cancer in the U.S.

Scientists are not certain why cell growth gets out of control and cause the development of colon cancer. They have identified potential factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer, though, including:

  • Damage or mutations to DNA;
  • Genetic predisposition that is inherited from family members;
  • Age, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and tobacco smoking;
  • Diets low in fiber and high in fat, calories, red meat and processed meat; and,
  • Diseases and conditions, including Diabetes, radiation treatment for other cancers, acromegaly (a growth hormone disorder), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of cancer usually depend on where the cancer has spread, where it is located and how big the tumor is. Colon cancer patients, specifically, usually feel symptoms only after the cancer has grown. These symptoms are: diarrhea or constipation, changes in stool consistency, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, pain, cramps, or gas in the abdomen, painful bowel movement, continual urges to defecate, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and iron deficiency (anemia).

The GastroCare LI center, which specializes in GI issues, liver diseases, and nutrition, know that when something is wrong within your body, it can really throw you off and lead to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms that can all be linked back to some form of internal disorder. Thus, consulting with the right doctors, whether you’ve just started experiencing acute pain and discomfort, or you’ve been dealing with your issues for some time, may help you find relief.


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