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What are the Risk factors for Cancer of the Colon?
Date Posted: 09/Oct/2018
A member of my family was diagnosed of cancer of the colon recently and he is already losing weight rapidly. Kindly share with your teeming readers risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
 
Question By Solomon V.
 
Thanks Solomon for your question and wishing your relative full recovery from this problem. Cancer of the colon can present in many ways. When any one experiences any of the symptoms below, he or she should seek for care on time.
•           Bleeding from the rectum or blood mixed with stool which may be associated with fatigue and pale skin.
•           If the tumour (abnormal swelling) gets large enough, it may completely or partially block the colon.
 
What are the risk factors?
•           Older age. The great majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Colon cancer can occur in younger people, but it occurs much less frequently.
•           A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps. If you’ve already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, you have a greater risk of colon cancer in the future.
•           Inflammatory intestinal conditions. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can increase your risk of colon cancer.
•           Family history of colon cancer. You’re more likely to develop colon cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease. If more than one family member has colon cancer or rectal cancer, your risk is even greater.
•           Low-fiber, high-fat diet. Colon cancer and rectal cancer may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories. Research in this area has had mixed results. Some studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in people who eat diets high in red meat and processed meat.
•           A sedentary lifestyle. If you are inactive, you are more likely to develop colon cancer. Getting regular physical activity may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
•           Diabetes. People with diabetes and insulin resistance may have an increased risk of colon cancer.
•           Obesity. People who are obese have an increased risk of colon cancer and an increased risk of dying of colon cancer when compared with people considered normal weight.
•           Smoking. People who smoke may have an increased risk of colon cancer.
•           Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol may increase your risk of colon cancer.
•           Radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers may increase the risk of colon cancer.
 
Examples of symptoms?
•           A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhoea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
•           Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
•           Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
•           A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
•           Weakness or fatigue
•           Unexplained weight loss
•           Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.
 
What are the causes of cancer of the colon?
1.          In most cases, it’s not clear what causes colon cancer.
2.          Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But when a cell is damaged and becomes cancerous, cells continue to divide even when new cells aren’t needed. As the cells accumulate, they form a tumour.
3.          With time, the cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy normal tissue nearby. And cancerous cells can travel to other parts of the body.
4.          Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colon cancer can be passed through families, but these inherited genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancers. Inherited gene mutations don’t make cancer inevitable, but they can increase an individual’s risk of cancer significantly.
 
Examples of treatment options?
1.          The primary treatment of colon cancer is to surgically remove part or the entire colon.
2.          Drugs after surgery can prolong survival for people whose cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
3.          Radiation before surgery, may reduce tumour size. This can improve the chances that the tumour will be removed successfully.
The best prevention is to detect colon cancer and treat it early in its formation.
 
By Dr Aminu Magashi
Daily Trust News

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