Colon, or Colorectal Cancer is a Frightening disease which affects over 100,000 people in the United States each year. It is the 3rd most common cancer and carries a lifetime risk of 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women. Hence, the odds of someone developing colorectal cancer are very high.
Given this, there are plenty of questions surrounding colon cancer. In this article, we will briefly answer the top 7 most common questions about colon cancer.
1 What are the Signs of colon cancer?
Colon cancer has several distinct signs. These are:
- Blood in stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- General fatigue or weakness
- Abdominal discomforts, gas, pain, or cramps
- Changes in bowel habits and consistency
- Feeling like the bowel does not completely empty
As with any disease, one or more of these signs may not be a sign of colon cancer, but should be checked out by your personal Kymera physician.
2 What is colon cancer pain like?
In the early stages of colon cancer, the only pain which may be experienced is in the bowels or abdomen. Pain may include constipation and pain from diarrhea because changes in bowel habits are common. In addition, there may be cramps or general discomfort in the abdomen including gas pains.
Later, when colon cancer progresses, there will be pain involved because if left untreated, the tumors will grow and cause blockages and additional discomfort. If treatments are undertaken, there will likely be pain from a surgery along with the discomforts which stem from Chemotherapy or Radiation.
3 Do colon cancer symptoms come on suddenly?
Yes and no. Colon cancer symptoms appear slowly, but many do not associate the symptoms with Colon cancer until it has progressed a good deal. Some early symptoms include blood in stool, which could also be hemorrhoids. Changes in bowel habits could also be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or some other ailment. Unexpected weight loss could be a sign or another cancer or some other condition including rheumatoid arthritis.
Regardless of what the problems you are experiencing may or may not be, any symptom is a sign that something is wrong and it should be checked out by your Kymera primary care physician.
4 Can colon cancer symptoms go away?
If a symptom is cause by colon cancer, it is not likely to go away. This is why physicians tell patients to let them know if a symptom lasts more than a certain amount of time. For example, changes in stool consistency can happen with changes in diet and often do not last more than a few days. But if these changes remain and linger longer than a few weeks, there is a problem which should be checked out by your Kymera general physician.
5 What color is the blood when colon cancer is present?
Blood in the stool when someone has colon cancer can be either bright red spotty or unseen. If bleeding is significant, the stool could appear black or very dark, which is a sign of dried blood.
Any blood in the stool should be reported to your general practice physician. Although it may be something minor, it could be serious. The only way to know for sure is with a medical examination. If colon cancer is suspected or you are over the age of 50, your doctor will likely order a fecal occult test through a certified lab.
6 Can colon cancer be cured?
In the early stages of colon cancer, tumors can be removed and many patients live normal lives. It is one of the cancers for which there are known cures. For instance, if someone with a history of colon cancer in their family is checked regularly and polyps are found in the intestine, these will be removed and biopsied.
If the test returns positive for cancer, the patient will undergo further examinations to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. If not, the prognosis is good. In all cases, the exact stage will determine the treatments and possible outcomes. Your Kymera Oncologist will discuss options with you at that point.
If the polyps are benign, they are considered Stage 0 cancer and once removed, pose no immediate threat. Still the patient should have regular checkups thereafter.
7 What is the life expectancy with colon cancer?
When first diagnosed with colon cancer, the first question many ask is, “How long will I live?” or “How long do I have?’
Still, these are valid questions, so here is the general answer.
First of all, know that every person is different and responds in different ways to treatments. Next, understand that much depends on the spread of the colon cancer and the stage.
Too, the choice of treatments and the treatment facility play a role. A newer treatment facility may lack the experience to properly diagnose and treat cancer while one which has been successfully treating patients for years, even decades will likely have the skills and understanding required to provide a better outcome.
Kymera Independent Physicians – Serving SENM for 22 Years
Kymera Independent Physicians knows this. For more than 22 years, Kymera has been at the forefront in helping cancer patients in Southeastern New Mexico battle this terrible disease. In that time, Kymera Physicians have led and participated in numerous studies to better understand how to help patients beat cancer into remission, including colon cancer.
If you are concerned about symptoms which may or may not indicate colon cancer, why not make an appointment today with Kymera Independent Physicians. From four locations in SENM, we provide residents of Roswell, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Artesia, and the surrounding communities with a better healthcare experience.