March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month: Understanding the Issue
With routine screenings, colorectal cancer is one of the easiest types of cancer to identify. Nonetheless, when it comes to cancer-related adult deaths, colorectal cancer (aka bowel cancer, colon cancer) ranks second. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70% of the colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented with up-to-date screenings.
Experts predict that by 2030 colorectal cancer will move up into the number one position for individuals ranging from 20 to 49 years. Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Tunde Adeyefa at Allied Digestive wants to share some facts and statistics about colorectal cancer.
The Prevalence of Colon Cancer
One in every 23 men and one in every 25 women will receive a colon cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives. According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, in 2022, there will be nearly 45,000 new cases of rectal cancer and approximately 106,000 new colon cancer cases.
In addition, the number of individuals under the age of 45 who are receiving a colon cancer diagnosis is on the rise. Today, one in 10 colon cancer diagnoses are in people who are younger than 45.
Understanding How Colorectal Cancer Develops
Colorectal cancer occurs when there is an overgrowth of cells within the large intestine (i.e., colon) or the rectum. These excess cells cause premalignant polyps (i.e., growths) to develop.
It usually takes about 10 years for these polyps to become malignant (i.e., cancerous).
Early Detection and Treatment
Early detection increases the likelihood that the cancer has remained within the rectum or colon. Furthermore, the five-year survival rate for patients who receive treatment during this time is approximately 90%.
Reach out to Dr. Tunde Adeyefa at Allied Digestive today for colon cancer screening in Houston.
What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Initially, colorectal cancer is asymptomatic, which means there are no apparent symptoms. However, as time passes, the symptoms become evident.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Bowel habit changes.
- Abdominal pain.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Blood in stool.
If any of these symptoms arise, seek medical care right away.
What Increases an Individual’s Risk of Developing Colon Cancer?
The specific reason an individual develops rectal or colon cancer has yet to be identified. Nonetheless, there are certain factors that increase the likelihood that an individual will develop colorectal cancer.
These factors include:
- Having an inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) (e.g., Crohn’s disease).
- Being 45 years of age, or older.
- Having a family history of colon cancer. About 30% of individuals who develop colon cancer have a family history of the disease.
How Is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed?
A colonoscopy is usually the screening test for bowel cancer.
At What Age Should Someone Start to Have Routine Screenings for Colon Cancer?
Screening frequency depends on age, risk factors and previous polyp removal. If an individual has an average risk for the development of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that he or she begins screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 45.
Individuals who are at an increased risk for developing colon cancer should follow their physician’s recommendations as to when and how frequently they should have a colonoscopy.
If you or a loved one currently has colon cancer, or is a colorectal cancer survivor, there are numerous online resources available.
Free colon cancer support resources: