Colon cancer, otherwise known as colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer, accounting for 9% of cancer deaths in 2012 in the United States alone. [1]

In 2010, this was also found to be the most deadly form of cancer, claiming the lives of over 50, ooo people in that year. [2]

colon cancer ribbonCredit: colon cancer

However, things have taken a turn for the better in the last couple of years, especially if we have a look at the preventative measures. In the last 20 years the colon cancer survival rate has definitely improved.

People have become a lot more disciplined about going for regular colonoscopies, and this is one of the reasons why there are over a million survivors in America today.

Sympoms and Warning Signs of Colon Cancer

Generally,people who survive the ordeal are those who catch the symptoms early enough.

Cancer cells

colon cancer cells

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  • The most common of the colon cancer symptoms is that which involve your bathroom and bowel habits. You will either suffer from diarrhea, constipation, often with the inclusion of blood.
  • You may have cramping or some stomach pain.
  • You may have noticed that you have lost some weight.
  • The loss of energy is also something that is fairly  common, usually in the later stages.
You may, however just have an infection or even hemorrhoids. Still, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Don't simply brush something like this off.

What Causes Colon Cancer?

This is probably something every cancer patient asks directly after they have been diagnosed. However, if we knew the answer to this one, then less lives would be lost.

In saying that, doctors, surgeons, oncologists and researchers are always working together, and have more of an idea as time goes on.

  • Age - you will find that you are not required to go for a colonscopy, generally if you are under the age of 50. According to the statistics it is very rare for this type of cancer to develop at a young age.
  • Diet - along with alcohol, your diet is often something that is also associated with colon cancer. People who live off a Mediterranean diet or Asian people, who's diet is not westernized, do not often suffer from colon cancer.
  • Polyps - These develop in the colon, and eventually they turn into cancer cells. Often, it turns out that this is a result of someone having the same thing in the family.
  • Medical history - If someone in your famiy has suffered from cancer, then you definitley have to be disciplined about having regular screenings. Apart from this, if you have something like diabetes, where insulin dependency is a contributing factor, or even inflammatory bowel disease - then you should keep an eye on things.
  • Men - men are affected a lot more than women with this. However, don't count the ladies out completely. Men can also get breast cancer.
  • To a lesser degree, things like obesity, lack of exercise and social status all come into play.

The Prevention of Colon Cancer

Now that you have had a look at the causes of this form of cancer, you will want to look at how to combat this by looking into each factor and turning that around. Obviously you can't do anything about your age. However, you can get off the couch and join a walking club, for example.

  • Diet - Let's start here because this is probably the most debated subject on the topic of cancer. Generally, you will find it is those people who love their fried foods, that won't agree with this point. However, the evidence is all there. Going back to fried fish and chips after surviving colon cancer is like someone who has just survived lung cancer, shooting off to buy a pack of cigarettes. Read more about diet here. You don't have to be obsessed about this, but if you eat a balanced diet, you will be a lot better off.healthy food

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  • Colonoscopy - No, you can't do anything about your age. You are not Peter Pan! You may feel like you are 30 years old, but your body matures, and this is why you have to go for regular screenings. Some people need to have this done more often than others, depending on their medical history, so check this out with your doctor.
  • Get into a routine and keep active - it is not easy these days to go to the gym, for example after you have been at the office all day. The demands are greater if you have a family to look after. However, there willl always be 20 minutes in the day, which you can set aside to some form of exercise. How about you sacrifice one of your T.V programs and walk the dog around the block?
  • Don't smoke - well this is just common sense. Not only can this affect you, but what about people around you? Secondary smoke is extremely harmful. This doesn't just affect the throat and the lungs, but the size of the polyps are also increased.
  • Medical history - genetics is a big factor, so make sure you study this, and talk to your doctor about it as well. If one of your parents have had colon cancer, then it is a good idea to go for a colonoscopy 10 years before the recommended average age.
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