Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon is a long, muscular tube that helps to digest food and absorb water, while the rectum is the final part of the colon where feces are stored before being eliminated from the body.
Colon cancer occurs when cells in the lining of the colon or rectum grow out of control and form a mass, or tumor. This tumor can then invade nearby tissues and organs, or spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Colon cancer often develops from small, noncancerous growths called polyps that can form on the lining of the colon or rectum. While most polyps are benign, meaning they are not cancerous, some can turn into cancer over time. Polyps can be detected and removed during a routine screening test called a colonoscopy, which is recommended for adults over the age of 50.
Symptoms of colon cancer may include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or cramping, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. However, some people with colon cancer may not experience any symptoms until the cancer has advanced.
Treatment for colon cancer typically involves surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. The specific treatment plan depends on the stage of the cancer and other individual factors, such as the patient’s overall health and medical history.
Prevention of colon cancer includes regular screening tests, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and managing conditions that may increase the risk of colon cancer, such as inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of the disease.