According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 112,340 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in 2007. About 52,180 people will die from either colon or rectal cancer this year. Even though the number seems high, deaths are actually decreasing.
New screenings that detect polyps that can be removed before they turn into colon cancer may be one reason that the death rate has declined in recent years. But fewer cases have been diagnosed as well. This could be because of improvements in diet and exercise for many people. A bad diet and a lack of exercise are two risk factors.
The risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society are:
* Age: More than 9 out of 10 people are diagnosed with colon cancer are 50 or older.
* A history of polyps: Even if they have been removed, they increase the risk, especially if the polyps were large or if there were many.
* Two diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease cause inflame the colon create ulcers in the lining. If a person has either disease, her or she should begin screening early in their life.
* Family history: If a close relative has had colon cancer, especially before he or she was 60, the risk is increased.
* Diet: A high-fat diets seems to increase risks.
* A sedentary lifestyle: People who get little exercise have a higher risk.
* Obesity: This also contributes.
* Smoking: Recent studies show that smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to die.
* Alcohol, particularly heavy use has been linked to colon cancer.
Many people who are diagnosed early during a routine screen may not have noticed any symptoms. According to the American Cancer Society, as it advances a person may experience:
* Stomach pain or cramping
* Diarrhea, constipation or other changes in bowel habits
* Blood in the stool
* Bleeding from the rectum
* A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
* A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that doesn't go away after doing so
* Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal
* Cramping or steady stomach pain
* Weakness and tiredness
Treatment for all types of cancer is also improving. Many patients are treated successfully with surgery. Surgery will remove the tumors or the polyps. Many patients also require chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
The American Cancer Society has a treatment tool worksheet on its website, www.cancer.org, (Alexa) to help you determine which treatment is best for you. You need to consult with you doctor before making any decisions about your treatment. Your personal physician is always the best person to help you decide how to treat your colon cancer.
For more information on cancer try visiting http://www.cancercondition.com - a website that specializes in providing cancer related information and resources including information on colon cancer.