Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. The lifetime probability of developing colorectal cancer is approximately 1 in 20 for both men and women, making it very common.
Any man or woman over the age of 50 years old should be screened for colorectal cancer. Patients with family members with a history of colorectal cancer, or colon polyps, as well as certain symptoms may need to be screened at an earlier age.
Colorectal Cancer develops from Colon polyps. A polyp is a growth out of the wall of the colon. Polyps are either benign (non-cancerous), or pre-malignant (pre-cancerous). Polyps are important because certain polyps can grow large over time into colon cancer. Usually patients have NO SYMPTOMS, if they have a polyp. Polyps are caused by genetic and hereditary factors, as well as dietary and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Colorectal cancer include Blood in the stool, Anemia (low blood counts), changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Often, however, patients have no symptoms at all.
Family history and genetic factors are one of the biggest predisposing factors to the development of colorectal cancer. If you have a close family member who had either colorectal cancer or colon polyps, you are at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer. Environmental or dietary factors, such as diets high in red meats, alcohol or tobacco use can predispose patients to colorectal cancer. Also patients who are overweight or have advanced diabetes are also at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.
The most important things to know about colorectal cancer is that is a common form of cancer, and all patients, including men and women are susceptible to developing colon cancer. Most types of colorectal cancer are preventable however, with appropriate screening. Make sure to talk to your doctor to see if you should be screened for colon cancer.