Colon cancer is a cancer that occurs not just in the colon itself, but also in the appendix, rectum and anus. Because of this, the more formal term for the disease is colorectal cancer. Frequently, indcidences of colorectal cancer develop from polyps, which are growths of tissue in the lining of the colon and associated organs. These growths are usually benign, but can become malignant if they aren’t removed. As is the case with the occurrence of colorectal cancer, polyps are more common in people over 50 years of age. Although the rates of mortality have dropped recently, mostly due to the increased number of people undergoing screening tests, the National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be over 100,000 new cases in 2013, so the number of people taking steps to prevent the disease is still not nearly high enough. Colorectal cancer shares symptoms with many other conditions, and needless to say, a diagnosis can only be determined by appropriate medical professionals, but some of the symptoms of the disease are:

  • changes in bowel movement habits
  • chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • chronic gas pains, bloating or abdominal cramps
  • blood in the stool
  • stools that are more narrow than usual
  • unexplained weight loss

The number one risk factor for the disease is being over 50. Some others include prior occurrences of colorectal cancer, polyps, and a family history of the condition. More controllable risk factors involve inadequate diet and exercise- diets that are too high in red meats and processed meats and too low in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, smoking, and the heavy intake of alcohol. For more information on the facts of colorectal cancer, see the websites of: The National Cancer Institute The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The National Institutes of Health

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