Colon cancer: Causes, symptoms and treatment

 
Colon cancer is a life-threatening condition that impacts the large intestine. According to the Mayo Clinic, most cases of colon cancer begin as clumps of noncancerous cells called adenomatous polyps that develop into cancerous cells over time. Because polyps produce very few symptoms, medical professionals suggest regular colon screens to identify and remove them. 
Early detection is essential for treating and surviving colon cancer. The more you educate yourself about the risks, signs and symptoms, the better chance you have at finding the cancer in an early stage.
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Causes
Mayo Clinic says it is not clearly understood what causes colon cancer. Cancer mainly forms when healthy cells in the colon become damaged. Healthy cells grow and divide as needed to keep the body functioning properly. However, when cancerous cells form, they continue to divide even when the body doesn’t need it. The buildup of the unnecessary cells ultimately leads to the creation of a tumor. 
Risk Factors 
While the exact cause is unclear, there are risk factors that can increase the likeliness of a person developing colon cancer at some point in his or her life. Mayo Clinic indicates that the following gene mutations can increase the chances of colon cancer:
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). People with this condition are susceptible to colon cancer as well as other cancers. Generally, individuals with HNPCC are likely to develop colon cancer before they reach the age of 50. 
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). This rare condition causes people to develop numerous polyps along the lining of the colon. If these polyps are left untreated, people are at a much greater risk of developing cancer by the time they reach the age of 40.
Other risk factors: 
- Over the age of 50
- Family history of colon cancer
- African-American 
- Intestinal issues
- Low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Obesity
- Diabetes
- Smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- Radiation therapy 
Symptoms
The most troubling thing about colon cancer is that it doesn’t always have symptoms. However, according to WebMD, there are a few things you should watch out for. Common signs include:
- Changes in bowel movement
- Dark blood in the stool
- Pain in the abdomen
- Abdominal bloating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the pelvis (WebMD indicates that this is usually associated with late-stage cancer)
Treatments
Treatment options vary depending on the size and location of the tumor as well the general health of the patient. According to MedicineNet, surgery is usually the most common treatment plan. However, chemotherapy can also be an option for prolonging a person’s life or helping reduce the likelihood of recurrence for people who are at high-risk. 
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Colon cancer can be a devastating illness. Reach out to your doctor if you notice a change in your health. Spread the knowledge. Share with your friends. 
Resources Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and MedicineNet
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