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Colon Cancer Basics

The American Cancer Society named colon cancer the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. Over 145,000 Americans are diagnosed annually. Approximately 60,000 are over 50, and ½ of those could have avoided cancer with testing.

In the average adult, the colon is 27 feet long, 22 feet in the small intestine and 5 feet in the large. It digests food and absorbs nutrients. Colon cancer does not begin as cancer but as painless sores in the lining of the colon. The most common sores are polyps, or abnormal growths of tissue. Many are benign, but those over 2 cm have potential of becoming malignant.

Other sores are known as ulcers caused by IBD’s, or inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms include change in bowel pattern such as constipation or persistent diarrhea, bloody bowel, persistent abdominal pain, and sudden weight loss.

Risks include being 50 or older, family history of colon cancer, personal history of polyps or IBD’s, tobacco and/or alcohol use, obesity, lack of exercise, and diets high in animal fat.

If you have symptoms, consult a physician or gastroenterologist. Tests should be ordered which may include a fecal sample, colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy. Cancer treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.

Nearly 90% of colon cancers caught early are prevented. Sadly, 60% of those diagnosed battle colon cancer due to lack of testing. Eat healthy, exercise, and get tested. Show colon cancer that you’ve got guts!

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