Colon Cancer

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Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine. Symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Persistent cramping, pain or gas in the abdomen
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Changes in your bowel movement, such as diarrhea or constipation

While the cause of colon cancer is not clear in most cases, research indicates that the majority of cases occur due to the growth of noncancerous cells (polyps) inside the lining of the colon. Over time, these polyps can become cancerous. Although the polyps may be small and produce few, if any symptoms, regular screenings are recommended to prevent colon cancer.

Screenings & Prevention

Colon cancer screenings should begin at the age of 50 for those at an average risk for developing colon cancer. Others who are at a higher risk, like African Americans, should begin colon cancer screenings at age 45. If you are unsure when to begin annual screenings, consult your doctor.

Colon cancer screenings vary depending on each patient, but may include:

While some of these tests are performed annually, others may only need to be performed every five or 10 years. Your doctor will discuss this more with you.

There are a number of lifestyle changes a person can make to help reduce their risk of developing colon cancer, including:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Minimize alcohol consumption
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

If you are at an increased risk for colon cancer, we may recommend additional treatment, including the use of medications, to help prevent colon cancer.

Virtual Colonoscopy

Virtual colonoscopy uses CAT scan technology along with special computer software to capture 3D images of the colon, allowing your doctor to recognize any potential polyps or cancers in the colon. Although this technology is still in its earliest stages, it has the potential to eliminate the need for colonoscopies, except for certain cases where polyps are detected.