Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer, affecting nearly 140,000 Americans each year. Colon cancer changes the cells of the colon, which is part of the body's digestive system. The colon includes approximately six feet of the large intestine, as well as the rectum and the anal canal.
Common colorectal cancer symptoms include:
Most cases of colon or rectal cancer are diagnosed in patients ages 55 to 84. Almost all colon cancers (95%) are adenocarcinomas. The balance of colon cancers include carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, melanomas, leiomyosarcomas or gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs).
The gold standard for colorectal cancer prevention and/or diagnosis is the performance of a colonoscopy, which should be performed on everyone over the age of 50 (sooner with suspicious symptoms). The failure to diagnose colon cancer may result in metastatic cancer, as well as the loss of an opportunity for cancer remission and cure. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, almost 50% of all colon cancers are preventable through a healthy diet, healthy body weight, regular exercise, and appropriate medical care that includes timely colon cancer screening(s).