What is Colon Cancer?
The colon makes up the majority of the large intestine, except the last 10cm, which is called the rectum. Colon cancer is a malignant in this area of the large intestine.
Most colon cancer is on the left side oin the sigmoid colon, the segment nearest the rectum. In Australia, colon cancer is one of the most common causes of death from cancer.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
The cause of colon cancer is unknown. How diet promotes cancer is not known either, but some researchers believe it plays an important role and studies have found that people who consume a diet low in fibre and high in protein and fat have a high incidence of colon cancer. It may well be related to the digestion of fats and to the speed at which faeces travel through the bowel. Fresh fruit and vegetables may act as protective factors.
Colon cancer often develops from a benign mass (adenoma) that grows from the surface fo the bowel and then spreads into the bowel channel. Adenomas range in size from the barely visible to several centimetres wide. Cancer cells may grow inside them and the larger the adenoma is, the more likely it is to contain them.
A small colon cancer can lie undetected for many years, without causing any symptoms. The growth patterns and eventual sysmptoms all differ, depending on where the cancer is located along the colon. Eventually, if it is not treated, it can spread to other body organs with fatal consequences.
What Are The Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
- Persistant change in bowel habits (either diarrhoea or constipation)
- Rectal bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain or bloating
- Change in the size or shape of the stool
- Weight loss