ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. March is national colorectal cancer awareness month, so there is never a better time than now to learn what you should look out for.
There are more than 200,000 cases of colorectal cancer each year.
“When he told me that we found a tumor and ‘you have cancer’, I couldn’t even hear the rest of what he was saying,” said cancer patient, Kevin Hays.
Hays never thought he could get colon cancer at age 28.
Hays continued, “I had some symptoms of colon cancer, just didn’t see it coming.”
Some of the most commonly overlooked signs are cramps, fatigue, and sudden weight loss. And pay attention to irregular bowel movements or signs of blood. Patrick Boland, MD, at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute has seen patients dismiss their symptoms.
“We know there’s a longer duration between the onset of symptoms and when they’re actually diagnosed because no one suspects colon or rectal cancer,” Dr. Boland shared.
Two more telltale signs are shortness of breath or a diagnosis of anemia, which signals internal bleeding. If you notice dizziness, fatigue, or unusual skin paleness, get checked for anemia and then follow with a colon cancer test.
Doctor Patricia Raymond from the American College of Gastroenterology says it is not uncommon for patients to bleed internally for up to six months before anything shows up in their stool. You can lower your risk by as much as 45 percent by maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and exercise routine.
Contributors to this news report include: Hayley Hudson, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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SEVEN SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed each year in the United States. This year, an estimated 135,430 adults in the United States will be diagnosed. These numbers include 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer. An estimated 27,150 men and 23,110 women will die of colon or rectal cancer this year. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and the third leading cause of cancer death in women. It mainly affects older adults, but there is a rising incidence in people who are younger. When colorectal cancer is found early, it can often be cured. The 5-year survival rate for people with colorectal cancer is 65 percent. The 10-year survival rate is 58 percent. However, survival rates for colorectal cancer can vary based on a variety of factors, particularly the stage. For patients who have just 1 or a few tumors that have spread from the colon or rectum to the lung or liver, surgical removal of these tumors can eliminate the cancer, which greatly improves the 5-year survival rate.
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT: Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, which is the final part of your digestive tract. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous clumps of cells called, adenomatous polyps. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer. Some signs and symptoms of colon cancer can be a change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool that lasts longer than four weeks; rectal bleeding or blood in your stool; persistent abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas or pain; a feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely; weakness, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss. Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.
BREAKTHROUGH DISCOVERY FOR COLON CANCER: New research led by Queen’s University Belfast has discovered how a genomic approach to understanding colorectal cancer could improve the prognosis and quality of life for patients. Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Genomics, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, explains, “Currently patients with colorectal cancer are offered chemotherapy treatment. While this treatment may be successful for some patients, for others it will have no effect on fighting the cancer. A ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t a viable option if we are to effectively tackle this disease.” The study has shown how defining precise gene signatures within bowel cancer cells can allow us to develop novel prognostic and predictive markers for bowel cancer and help to drive personalized medicine approaches. Philip Dunne, MD, Senior Research Fellow at Queen’s said, “Through analyzing the molecular and genetic data generated from patient tissue samples, we have discovered that there are different subtypes of bowel cancer. This will allow us to identify particular gene signatures that indicate sensitivity or resistance to specific therapies. Therefore, we can tailor treatment to the individual patient, maximizing its effectiveness while minimizing potential side effects.”
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