One of the scariest things you can hear is “You have colon cancer.” But a lot can be done to treat and even prevent this too-common disease.
It’s important to know what are the symptoms to detect colon cancer; that way, it can be caught early, increasing the chance of survival. Colon cancer often begins with small groups of cells called adenomatous polyps. These are harmless in themselves but can mutate into cancerous cells.
These cells don’t produce any symptoms, so it’s suggested that everyone have a colonoscopy periodically. During this procedure, these polyps are found and removed. The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at the age of 50.
What are the symptoms to detect colon cancer, so you’ll recognize them between colonoscopies? The Mayo Clinic lists these warning signs:
- Bowel habit changes that last more than a month
- A feeling of fullness in the bowel
- Persistent gas or stomach cramps
- Fatigue and unexplained weight loss
The Mayo Clinic advises anyone with these symptoms to see a doctor. Don’t delay, because once the signs of colon cancer appear, the disease may be more advanced. That’s why it’s important to schedule a colonoscopy periodically to remove any pre-cancerous cells.
What treatments for colon cancer are available today? Cancer.net reports that surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer. The tumors and parts of the nearby colon are removed. This might be done with laparoscopic surgery, reducing the recovery time.
Patients may also have radiation to kill remaining cancer cells. The side effects of radiation can be upset stomach and bloody stools, but these usually go away. Chemotherapy is also used to kill cancer cells and is often introduced by IV. Chemotherapy can cause fatigue and nausea, but there are medications to control these side effects.
Here’s the best reason to know what are the symptoms to detect colon cancer. As scary as it sounds, colon cancer is quite survivable if found early. According to Cancer.org, the survival rate for patients with Stage 1 colon cancer is 92% after 5 years. For Stage 2 colon cancer, it’s 87% after 5 years.
Colon cancer is serious business. But nowadays, taking preventative steps and knowing the symptoms can give patients a chance for a good outcome. This is a great step forward for patients and their families.