Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Colon cancer progresses very slowly and may go undetected for several years. Many symptoms of colon cancer are often interpreted as other conditions, making colon cancer screening critical for accurate diagnosis.

Colorectal cancer typically develops within polyps that form in the colon and rectum. If left unchecked, these cancerous polyps can become quite large before they can be detected, and which may spread to lymph nodes, the liver, and to other structures. Since the symptoms early on in the disease are minimal, many patients don’t know they are affected until the disease has progressed substantially. A screening colonoscopy can often find these lesions at an early stage, increasing the likelihood of a successful treatment, or find suspicious polyps before they have developed into cancer. The removal of these polyps can then effectively prevent the development of cancer.

You can increase your chances of early detection by watching for these important warning signs:

  • Blood in stool.
  • Constipation or changes in bowel activity.
  • Narrowing of the stool.
  • Anemia (Frequently the result of a tumor that is bleeding into the intestinal tract.)

If you age 50 or older, you are at an increased risk. You should have a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years, with examinations more frequently in certain circumstances.

Sometimes patients mistake the signs of colon cancer for hemorrhoids, or vice-versa. That’s why an accurate diagnosis is essential.