Archive for the ‘Colon Cancer’ category

FAQ # 12 About Colon Cancer

March 14th, 2011

Are intestinal obstructions an early symptom of colon cancer?

Colonic obstruction is a late symptom of colon cancer. It occurs when the tumor has grown so large that it blocks the bowel. When it occurs, urgent surgery is required to relieve the blockage. Screening for colon cancer with colonoscopy can detect tumors long before they cause symptoms, let alone serious complications like obstruction.


FAQ #11 About Colon Cancer

March 13th, 2011

Is it possible to have blood in your stool, but not have colon cancer?

Yes, it is possible to have blood in your stool but not have colon cancer. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures or tears, infections of the colon (infectious diarrhea), inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis), colonic diverticula and abnormal blood vessels (arteriovenous malformations or angiodysplasia) may all be associated with bleeding from the rectum or colon. Blood in the stool may also occur from lesions in the stomach and small intestine such as peptic ulcer disease, angiodysplasia and Crohn’s disease of the small intestine. Rectal bleeding of any amount or blood in or on the stool is never normal and should not be ignored, as some causes of rectal bleeding and blood in the stool (colon cancer) are more serious than others. Speak with your gastroenterologist about any rectal bleeding and schedule a colonoscopy to get the bleeding properly checked out.


FAQ #10 About Colon Cancer

March 12th, 2011

Is it possible to have colon or rectal cancer without having polyps?

Colorectal cancer can occur without polyps, but it is an uncommon event. Individuals with long-standing inflammatory bowel diseases, such as chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s colitis, are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer that occurs in the absence of polyps. The greater the extent of colonic involvement by inflammatory bowel disease and the greater the duration of the disease, the greater the risk of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancers in individuals with chronic inflammatory bowel disease may appear as flat, plaque like lesions or may even be indistinguishable from the surrounding colon tissue. Large mass-like lesions with distinct margins seen with most colorectal cancers are uncommon in inflammatory bowel disease.

Colorectal cancer associated with inflammatory bowel disease accounts for less than 1 percent of all colorectal cancers diagnosed in the United States each year. There are also reports that suggest some tiny colon cancers may arise in flat colon tissue which is either entirely normal or contains a small flat area of adenomatous (precancerous) tissue. This type of colorectal cancer is the exception to the rule and is considered a rare event. The vast majority of colorectal cancers arise from pre-existing adenomatous (precancerous) polyps.


FAQ #9 About Colon Cancer

March 11th, 2011

What are early symptoms of this type of cancer?

Colorectal cancer can be associated with unexplained weight loss, change in bowel habits from what is considered normal for a given individual – either constipation or diarrhea – unexplained anemia (low blood count), visible blood in the stool, hidden blood in the stool (which is checked by smearing stool on a special piece of card called fecal occult blood test), and unexplained or sustained abdominal pain. It is also important to remember that colon cancer may be silent and not associated with any symptoms. That is why early detection through screening is so important.


FAQ #8 About Colon Cancer

March 10th, 2011

Does food intolerance or lactose intolerance increase your risk for colon or rectal cancer?

There currently is not hard data that consumption of lactose products or that lactose intolerance is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. However, there is a huge amount of new literature, suggesting probiotic therapy is healthy, and that microflora of the colon may be altered by dietary dairy products such that the risk for colon cancer is retarded.


FAQ #6 About Colon Cancer

March 8th, 2011

Can flax seed or green tea prevent colorectal cancer?

Cruciferous vegetables seem to covey some protection against colorectal cancer. There is an explosion of literature looking at the effect of green tea and colon cancer. Tea catechins and related polyphenols may have an inhibitor effect on colon cancer. Grape juice may have a similar inhibitory effect to green tea on human colon cancer cell lines. Clinical trials are needed to determine true efficacy. If your pocket book will permit purchase of green teas, there is probably little harm in consuming green teas.


FAQ #5 About Colon Cancer

March 7th, 2011

What foods or what diet should I follow to prevent colorectal cancer from occurring? Are there any foods that actually cause colorectal cancer?

There are no foods that cause colorectal cancer. However, studies of different populations have identified associations that may affect your risk of developing colorectal cancer, or the precancerous lesions called polyps. There appears to be a slightly increased risk of developing colorectal cancer in countries with higher red meat or non-dairy (meat-associated) fat intake. For example, the U.S. and Canada have much higher rates of colorectal cancer than countries like Japan or Nigeria, and this correlates to meat and fat consumption.

Similarly, there has been an association with decreased rates of colorectal cancer and increased fiber intake. Recent studies have questioned this association, but in general we recommend a diet high in vegetable fiber and low in fat and moderate to low in red meat. Finally, calcium and folic acid appear to have protective effects in the colon. There remain many unanswered questions in this area. No matter what your dietary intake is, don’t forget to ask your doctor about the appropriate screening test to identify polyps and early cancers!


FAQ #3 About Colon Cancer

March 5th, 2011

Exactly what is a “pre-cancerous” polyp? If the polyp is removed, does that mean I am cured?

The term “pre-cancerous” polyp can have two possible interpretations. One interpretation describes the evolution of the lining of the colon from normal colon cells to colon cancer. In this evolution, the patient first develops a polyp, the cells on the polyp then become atypical or dysplastic. Next, the polyp degenerates into an early cancer, still continued to the polyp itself, and finally there is an invasive colon cancer. Some people refer to all of the polyps up to the point of cancer as “pre-cancerous” polyps.

The other interpretation relates to classification of polyps and their malignant potential. There are two broad categories of polyps that are commonly found during cancer screening: adenomatous polyps and hyperplastic polyps. Adenomatous polyps are the type of polyps associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and are sometimes referred to as “pre-cancerous.” Types of polyps in this category include villous adenomas, tubulo-villous adenomas, tubular adenomas, serrated adenomas and adenomatous polyps. Hyperplastic polyps, on the other hand, are the other large category of polyps and are not associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.

If an adenomatous polyp is discovered on sigmoidoscopy, many physicians would recommend a full colonoscopy to examine the remainder of the bowel. Removal of a benign polyp does prevent a cancer from developing at that one location, but the patient is likely to develop polyps at other locations. Close follow up is indicated for these patients.

Colon Cancer Screening Saves Lives!

March 4th, 2011

Screening Saves Lives!

 If you’re 50 or older, getting a colon cancer screening test could save your life.

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from slow growing polyps in the colon or rectum.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests also can find cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.

Detection of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps is achieved through screening techniques such as, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, or virtual colonoscopy.

Only 1 in 3 colon cancers are currently being diagnosed at an early, treatable stage.

Colon Cancer Can Start With No Symptoms 

Precancerous polyps and early-stage colon cancer don’t always cause symptoms. This means that someone could have polyps or colon cancer and not know it.  That is why having a screening test is so important.
Are You at High Risk?Your risk for colon cancer may be higher than average if:  

  • You or a close relative have had colon polyps or cancer.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.   

People at high risk for colon cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening and how often you should be tested.  Regular screening is important for everyone.  Almost 75% of all new cases of colon cancer occur in people with no symptoms or no family history.

If you experience symptoms and are below the age of 50, ask to be screened.  Colon cancer affects more than 13,000 people under the age of 50 years each year.

Risk factors associated with colon cancer include family history of colon cancer, diet low in vegetables, excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, obesity, and sedentary “inactive” lifestyle

FAQ #2 About Colon Cancer

March 4th, 2011

How can you prevent polyps from forming?

Few studies have been able to show that modifying lifestyle reduces the risk of colon polyps or cancer. However, lifestyle modifications such as reducing dietary fat, increasing fiber, ensuring adequate vitamin and micro-nutrient intake, and exercise, may improve general health. Studies have shown that getting adequate calcium in the form of diet or supplement can reduce the risk of polyps.