Colon cancer is found in the large intestine, at the end of the digestive tract. Before colon cancer develops, the patient usually has one or more adenomatous polyps. These tiny cluster of cells are visible to doctors during routine checkups, and can be removed before they turn into colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer to affect Americans. Patients are more likely to develop colon cancer after the age of 50 with symptoms such as:
- Unusual change in bowel movements
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Blood in the stool
- Continual pain in the abdomen
- Cramping and bloating sensations
- Feeling that the bowels are never empty
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unexpected weight loss
Patients with a history of inflammatory bowel disease tend to be more likely to develop colon cancer. Other risks of developing colon cancer are associated with a person’s daily habits, such as smoking, drinking, and living a sedentary lifestyle.
Colon cancer is best treated early in its development, and routine screening is the most effective way for doctors to diagnose this disease. For most people, it is generally recommended to begin screening for polyps at the age of 50. In situations where a patient may be at a greater risk of developing the disease, screenings can be performed sooner.
Several methods of screening for colon cancer exist, and each option has its own benefits and flaws. Blood tests can provide doctors with important information concerning your overall health, but a colonoscopy is necessary to properly diagnose and begin treating colon cancer. To speak to a Valley Stream gastroenterologist about which method is best for you, contact GastroCare LI by calling (516) 265-7049.