Colon cancer occurs when the lining of the colon develops polyps or raised outgrowths. These polyps can become cancerous over a period of 8 to 10 years.
Over 150,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common cancer in men. But many people don't realize that colon cancer is preventable.
Symptoms of colon polyps are bleeding, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain. If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately. You should have a colon cancer screening at age 50. If there is a family history of cancer, have yourself checked by age 40 - or 10 years before the youngest person in the family was diagnosed with cancer.
If polyps are detected, they can be simply removed before they become cancerous in a procedure called a colonoscopy. The procedure is relatively painless and can be performed on an outpatient basis.
If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, you can be cured if it is caught early. The cancerous segment is removed along with lymph node drainage. It's a simple procedure similar to replacing a bad piece of pipe. A colostomy is rarely necessary with today's advanced procedures.
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