Colon Cancer: Facts, Causes, Treatment and its Prevention

Colon Cancer
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

Introduction to Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the type of cancer that occurs anywhere in the colon. It’s a very common type of cancer worldwide. The increasing* in the incidence of colon cancer necessitates the need of proper screening programs to detect it early. Learning about colon cancer is very crucial part of the prevention. This article aimed at discussing different facts about colon cancer.

Facts on Colon Cancer

According to the recent numbers published via the American Cancer Society, following are some facts about colon cancer:

  • Colon cancer is number three on the list of the most common types of cancer
  • Colon cancer is the second killer in the list of cancer deaths in the United States
  • More than 100,000 cases are diagnosed with colon cancer yearly
  • The normal population risk of getting colon cancer through their life is about 5%

Colon Cancer Causes

As with all types of cancer, there is no specific cause for colon cancer. Multiple risk factors may contribute to the etiology of colon cancer. Following are the most important risk factors:

  • Old age: The chance of getting colon cancer is increasing* after the age of 50
  • Previous history of colon cancer or colon polyps
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease especially Ulcerative Colitis
  • Positive history of colon cancer in the family
  • Family history of inherited colon cancer syndrome

Colon Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Many symptoms may be related to colon cancer. Following are some of them, if you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Frequent change in your bowel habit; for example, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Change in the shape of stool; thinning of it
  • Persistent urgent feeling that you need to defecate that is not eased by defecating
  • Blood mixed with stool
  • Dark colored stool
  • Bleeding per rectum
  • Cramping in the belly
  • Frequent Pain in the belly
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Unintentional loss of weight

Almost all these symptoms can be caused by benign conditions; for example, hemorrhoids, infection, and inflammatory bowel disease, but they may be also an early symptom of colon cancer; it is better to suspicious than to regret later! If you have any of the previous symptoms, contact your doctor to guide you to the diagnosis and treatment.

Colon Cancer Treatment

There are four options for the treatment of colon cancer:

Colon Cancer
  • Surgical option
  • Radiotherapy option
  • Chemotherapy option
  • Special targeted therapy option

The decision to use any of the above options depends on the stage of colon cancer. In some case, it’s possible to use more than one option in the course of colon cancer treatment.

The next step in managing colon cancer, after the diagnosis of it; is the discussion of the options of treatment with the patient. This discussion aims at choosing the best treatment modality after understanding the advantages and the disadvantages of each modality. The single most important factor is choosing the best plan is the colon cancer stage. But other factors play an important role, for example; the patient overall health, the chances of cure*, the possible side effects, and the expected outcome of each treatment modality.

We always advise the patient to seek more than one opinion before taking the final decision regarding his colon cancer treatment plan. Seeking other opinions makes you more confident regarding your decision.

Colon Cancer Prevention

Colon cancer can be preventing by adopting the following tips:

1. Regular Screening for Colon Cancer:

  • After the recent improvements in the field of colon cancer screening during the past decades, more and more people survive colon cancer via early diagnosis through adopting the recommended screening guidelines. The aims of colon cancer screening tests are to diagnose the presence of precancerous tissues thus removing* it through surgery before it converted into colon cancer and to find colon cancer itself early, even before having symptoms or spreading all over the body.
  • It’s recommended to do regular screening for colon cancer starting from the age of 50. People, with suggestive family history of colon cancer or who have multiple risk factors for it, should consult their physician early to choose the proper type and time for colon cancer screening.

2. Adopting Health Lifestyle:

  • Regular physical activity is associated with low risk of different types of cancer, especially colon cancer. Add to that, regular exercising reduces* the risk of serious heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. It’s recommended to get at least 30 minutes of regular moderate exercise daily.
  • It’s recommended to have at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily. In addition to its benefits in reducing* weight due to its low calories content, fruits and green vegetables are strong fighters against cancer. Try to eat whole grains, whole wheat, brown rice and oat daily; at your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Avoid eating white rice, original bread, and processed grains. Avoid any type of processed meats as they are strongly related to colon cancer and prostate cancer. Add to that, these foods are rich in calories leading to obesity. Avoid drinking alcohol in excessive amounts; two drinks daily maximum and not more than 10 cups weekly. Alcohol is related to different types of cancer especially liver cancer.
  • Recent studies showed that tobacco smoking is related to more than 30% of deaths due to cancer in the USA. In fact, smoking is one of the well-established risk factors of more than 15 different types of cancer. If you are smoker, this is the best time to quit!


Almost all colon cancers arise from small abnormal growth at the surface of colon known as polyps. If we can diagnose the presence of those polyps early, we can remove* them surgically thus preventing the arising of cancer. This is the idea behind the colon cancer screening via colonoscopy. Ideally the screening should started at the age of 50, or even much earlier if there is a strong family history of colon cancer that is suggestive of familial inherited cancer syndrome.

Adopting health lifestyle; healthy diet, reduction* of excess weight, and regular exercising, is very crucial to prevent colon cancer. Eat more fruits, whole grains, and vegetables, but less beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, and other processed meat. You should also limit your alcohol intake to less than two drinks daily for men and one drink for women. Stay slim via regular exercising; this will lower your colon cancer risk. Cut smoking is very important as well.

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Expert Author : Lisiana Carter (Consumer Health Digest)

Lisiana Carter has been a freelance health writer for over ten years having written books, blogs and articles. She is the author of a number of websites and teaches people how to enter the freelance writing field.