Colon cancer is the cancer of large intestine (colon), which is the last part of our digestive system which processes food for energy and rids the body of solid waste. Worldwide, colorectal cancer accounts for nearly 1.4 million new cases and 6,94,000 deaths per year. Worldwide it is the third most common cancer in men and in women. The average lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women.
Colon Cancer in India :
In India, the annual incidence is 4 per 1,00,000 women and is the ninth most common cancer in women. Most cases of colon cancer begin as a polyp – small, noncancerous (benign) growth on the lining of the colon or rectum called as adenomatous polyps. These polyps grow slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 years. Although all polyps may progress to cancer, less than 10% of these polyps progress to invasive cancer.
Colon cancer may also occur as part of Lynch syndrome which increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers. Other risk factors include age more than 50 years, inflammatory diseases of the colon like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse and family history of colon cancer.
Signs and Symptoms associated with Colon Cancer:
Early Colon cancer is most often asymptomatic.
As a tumour grows, it may bleed or obstruct the intestine.
At times, bleeding from cancer may lead to anaemia, weakness, excessive fatigue, and sometimes breathlessness.
Other symptoms include the change in bowel habits, diarrhoea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool lasting longer than four weeks.
Blood in the stools, dark or black stools, cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss and an urge to have a bowel movement when the bowel is empty can be other indicators.
Having any of these symptoms does not always mean that one has cancer, but one must consult your doctor. Also, preventive screening in the high-risk population and otherwise after in age of 50 years in healthy population can prevent colon cancer to a great extent.