Colon Cancer

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, the final part of the digestive tract. In most cases, this cancer starts out as small precancerous collections of cells called adenomatous polyps. These polyps can, over time, become colon cancers. For the most part, adenomatous polyps produce little to no symptoms, so it is recommended that you schedule regular screenings with your doctor to test for colon cancer. Identifying the polyps and removing them early may prevent cancer.*

What are the signs and symptoms?

Colon cancers cause a change in bowel habits, including:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • A change in the consistency of your stool (that lasts for one month)

You may also experience a persistent discomfort in your abdomen, including:

  • Gas
  • Pain or cramps
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

Rectal bleeding in your stool is a telltale sign, and if you do notice blood in your stool, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. During the early stages of this disease, no symptoms will be present. When symptoms do appear, they will vary depending on the cancer’s location and size in the large intestine.

What are the causes?

The exact cause of colon cancer is not clear. We do know that it occurs when healthy cells in the colon develop issues with DNA. Healthy cells grow and spread throughout your body to keep it functioning normally. When a cell’s DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, they continue to divide even when new cells are not needed. As the cell count grows, they accumulate and form a tumor. Cancerous cells eventually destroy normal tissue nearby and can travel to other parts of the body to form deposits there (a process known as metastasis).

Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colon cancers can be passed on genetically. Having said that, these inherited genes are only linked to a small number of cancers in the colon.

Another factor to consider is your diet. Studies have shown that diets low in fiber and high in fat can increase the risk of colon cancer. Researchers are still determining the link between high-fat, low-fiber diets and the microbes that live in the colon, which cause inflammation that may contribute to your cancer risk. Diabetes and obesity can also increase the risk of colon cancer.

Schedule an appointment in Fairbanks, Alaska

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or you suspect that you might have colon cancer, schedule an appointment with Dr. Nick Sarrimanolis. From our medical practice in Fairbanks, we provide colon cancer screenings for our patients. These screenings can help to confirm whether or not you have colon cancer.* The sooner we detect any signs of cancer, the sooner you can begin treatment. Don’t wait until it’s too late; schedule an appointment today. Give us a call at (907) 451-1174 or request an appointment using the form on our site.

*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.

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