Colon cancer is a cancer that affects the large intestine. The large intestine functions as the lower digestive system in the human body. Along with colon cancer there is rectal cancer. Rectal cancer is a cancer that affects the last few inches of the colon. Together these cancers are referred to as colorectal cancers. Most people first experience symptoms such as small polyps known as adenomatous polyps. Most of these polyps start out benign, but they can eventually develop into cancerous polyps. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths in the United States. While there is no one particular cause of colorectal cancer, nearly all cases of colorectal cancer begin with benign polyps in the colon.
People with certain backgrounds are at higher risk for colon cancer. These factors include being older than 60 years of age, are of African American or Eastern European descent, consuming a diet that contains a lot of processed meats and red meats, have polyps in the colon, have a family history of colon cancer and certain genetic syndromes such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer. Some of the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer are abdominal pain, blood in the stool, diarrhea and spontaneous weight loss. Getting symptoms diagnosed and treated by a doctor early in the stages of colorectal cancer can be a huge tool in eliminating the cancer before it spreads. There are five stages of colorectal cancer. Stage 0 is the earliest sign of colon cancer when there is little cancer in the colon. Stage 1 happens when cancer is in the inner layers of the colon. Stage 2 occurs when the cancer has spread through the muscle wall of the colon. Stage 3 occurs when cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and Stage 4 happens when cancer has spread to other organs. The best way to prevent colon cancer is to receive monthly checkups with a doctor.