Get The Facts

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colorectal cancer. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel.

It's the Second Leading Cancer Killer!

Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn't have to be. Few cancers are as easily preventable as colon cancer. Removing precancerous growths, called polyps, from the colon prevents the development of colon cancer. Even if colon cancer has already developed, finding it and treating it before symptoms are present result in a greater than 90% treatment success. If everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening tests, at least 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.

  • Click here to access information from the National Cancer Institute colon cancer.
  • Click here to learn more about screening, treatment, and risks of colon cancer from the American Cancer Society.

Who Gets Colon Cancer?

  • Both men and women can get it.
  • It is most often found in people 50 or older.
  • The risk increases with age.

Screening Saves Lives!

If you're 50 or older, getting a colon cancer screening test could save your life.

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from slow growing polyps in the colon or rectum.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests also can find cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.

Detection of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps is achieved through screening techniques such as,colonoscopy,sigmoidoscopy,barium enema, or virtual colonoscopy.

Only 1 in 3 colon cancers are currently being diagnosed at an early, treatable stage.


Colon Cancer Can Start With No Symptoms 

Precancerous polyps and early-stage colon cancer don't always cause symptoms. This means that someone could have polyps or colon cancer and not know it.That is why having a screening test is so important. Are You at High Risk? Your risk for colon cancer may be higher than average if:

  • You or a close relative have had colon polyps or cancer.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

People at high risk for colon cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening and how often you should be tested. Regular screening is important for everyone.Almost 75% of all new cases of colon cancer occur in people with no symptoms or no family history.

If you experience symptoms and are below the age of 50, ask to be screened.Colon cancer affects more than 13,000 people under the age of 50 years each year. Risk factors associated with colon cancer include family history of colon cancer, diet low in vegetables, excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, obesity, and sedentary "inactive" lifestyle.

Fast Cancer Facts

The Centers for Disease Control have a neat application that lets you find cancer statistics for your state quickly. Click here to view application. It's a snap to compare rates from year to year or between two states or nationally. Find out the differences between men and women or blacks and whites or track trends.

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