Colon cancer is a malignancy that originates in an individual's large intestine or colon. Colon cancer can develop in an individual of any age but is more common in older adults. Symptoms of colon cancer include changes in stool consistency, frequent diarrhea, frequent constipation, blood in the stool, cramping, abdominal discomfort, excessive gas, the sensation of incomplete bowel emptying, weight loss, fatigue, and weakness. Most individuals who do not have numerous risk factors begin getting screened for colon cancer when they reach the fifth decade of life.
Colon cancer is diagnosed with the use of blood tests, CT scans, and a procedure called a colonoscopy. Should the physician discover any areas that look suspicious during a colonoscopy, they can biopsy the suspicious tissue during the procedure. Treatment for colon cancer includes surgery to remove the malignancy if possible, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Family History Of Colon Cancer
Individuals who have a family history of colon cancer are more likely to develop this type of malignancy in their colon. Malignancy anywhere in the body is caused by a change or mutation in cellular DNA that causes the cells to grow rapidly, multiply excessively, and live longer then they should. Some of the mutations that cause cancer can be inherited from an individual's parents. While this cause of colon cancer is relatively uncommon, specific inherited syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer can significantly increase an individual's risk of developing colon cancer.
A patient's chance of developing colon cancer is even higher when they have more than one blood family member who has been affected by colon or rectal cancer at some point in their life. Between five and ten percent of all cases of colon cancer are the result of an inherited genetic factor or syndrome. An individual who has a family history of polyp development in the colon or a condition that causes them is also at an increased risk of developing colon cancer.