Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer involves cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and the appendix. It is the third most common cancer in the world. Often, this type of cancer starts with mushroom-like growths in the colon called adenomatous polyps. Removal of these polyps during colonoscopy therefore reduces the subsequent risk of the condition. The risk of colon cancer, like is the case with other types of cancer increases with age and often it occurs in people who are in their 60s or 70s.
Women who have suffered from breast, uterus or ovarian cancer have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Heredity is also another cause of this type of cancer. Individuals who have close relatives who have suffered from the disease before the age of 55 are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Smokers are also at a high risk of developing the disease as compared to non-smokers.
Studies have showed that people who consume mostly red meat and less fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry have an increased risk of developing the disease. Physical activity reduces the risk of contracting this type of cancer and therefore regular exercise is recommended. People in industrialized countries are at a relatively high risk of suffering from colon cancer than those in developing countries.
Colon cancer takes sometime to develop and even sometimes may take years. Early diagnosis therefore improves the chances of curing it. Screening for this disease can be done through colonoscopy, digital rectal exam and through fecal occult blood where a test on the blood in the stool is done.