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Colon cancer

What is Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also called Colorectal cancer or bowel cancer, includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. It is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of death among cancers in the Western world. Many colorectal cancers are thought to arise from adenomatous polyps in the colon. These mushroom-like growths are usually benign, but some may develop into cancer over time. The majority of the time, the diagnosis of localized colon cancer is through colonoscopy. Therapy is usually through surgery, which in many cases is followed by chemotherapy.


Colorectal cancer is a disease originating from the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Mutations in specific DNA (particularly the FAP, KRAS and p53 genes) lead to unrestricted cell division. Various causes for these mutations are inborn genetic aberrations, tobacco smoking, environmental, and possibly viral causes The exact reason why a diet high in fiber prevents colorectal cancer remains uncertain. Chronic inflammation, as in inflammatory bowel disease, may predispose patients to malignancy


Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:

Change in bowel habits (e.g. constipation, change in the caliber of stools).
Blood in stools (melena, hematochezia).
Bowel obstruction (rare) by the tumor
Often, the symptoms are much less specific:
Anemia, with symptoms such as tiredness, malaise, pallor
Unexplained weight loss.
Hepatomegaly (enlargement of the liver) due to spreading of the tumor
It is also possible that there will be no symptoms at all. This is one reason why many organizations recommend periodic screening for the disease with fecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy.


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