Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Your biggest risk for colon cancer is simply getting older, since the disease becomes more common with each decade after age 50. That’s why the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society recommend colon cancer screening for all adults over 50. Options for Getting Screened There are several different ways to get screened for colon cancer. You may be aware of some of these tests, but many people don’t realize that they can choose between different options. While experts think that some of these screening tests may be better than others, any test to screen for colon cancer is better than no test at all. Getting regular screening may lower your risk of colon cancer by more than half. Many people need help deciding which screening test makes the most sense for them. Other people maybe confused about how often they need to have follow-up screening. This tool is designed to help you answer some of these important questions. However, keep in mind that this tool cannot substitute for the important conversations that you have with your health care provider. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to speak directly with your doctor. A Decision Guide That Helps You Choose This guide works by asking you to answer a series of questions related to your medical history, your preferences about your health care, and your information needs. None of this information is stored, saved, or transferred to anyone else. Once you leave this guide, all answers are discarded and cannot be retrieved. Let’s get started. Some people think they need a screening test when they develop symptoms.

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New Colon Cancer Screening Test in the Works

At the same meeting, other researchers reported that they have new clues about how DNA characteristics can help predict colon cancer risk. The research was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s special conference, Colorectal Cancer: Biology to Therapy. Screening for Colon Cancer: Back Story ”One in every 17 of us will have colon cancer in our lifetime,” says David Ahlquist, MD, professor of medicine and a consultant in gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who presented his findings on the new colon cancer screening test. Although colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the U.S., many adults don’t undergo the screenings once they reach age 50 (or earlier for those with a family history), Ahlquist told a news conference. Estimates of how many adults undergo screening vary, but Ahlquist says probably only 40% adhere to the screening schedule over time. One screening test, the colonoscopy, in which a flexible, lighted tube with a video camera is inserted to examine the colon, requires dietary restriction and preparation of the colon. Patients must often take time off work and need transportation home from the procedure. Catching Colon Cancer: The New Test The new test, a next-generation stool test known as a DNA methylation test, detects tumor-specific alterations or methylations in the DNA in the cells shed into the stool from cancerous or precancerous lesions. The test can be done at home without dietary restrictions or bowel preparation. At the meeting, Ahlquist presented the results of the first clinical evaluation study, which enrolled 1,100 patients.”We were pleased by the results of this first clinical study,” he says. The test found 64% of precancerous tumors that were bigger than a centimeter (less than a half inch) and found 85% of cancers. Ahlquist called the 85% figure ”very high” and adds: “It would be very hard to find a noninvasive approach that could get that range.” The test also found tumors on both sides of the colon, Ahlquist says, a feat that is not always accomplished by colonoscopy. “These results were encouraging,” he says. The detection rate was 87% for cancers in stages I through III, considered the most curable, and 69% percent for stage IV, the most advanced. The test is better at detecting cancer in early stages, he says, because the cells can become less methylated in later stages.

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Laiyemo tells WebMD that doctors already knew that people who have three or more polyps removed are at significantly increased risk of developing new polyps. In fact, current guidelines, developed by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American Cancer Society, recommend that people with three or more polyps receive another colonoscopy within three years. Colonoscopy a Powerful Prevention Tool Though Laiyemo doesnt suggest altering the guidelines based on one study, he says he hopes the findings will propel more at-risk people to get a colonoscopy in the first place. Men, in particular, never like going for the procedure. Women need to encourage their men to go, he says After age 65, your risk really takes off, so it shows the importance of having colonoscopies as we age, Laiyemo says. And since obesity is a risk factor as well, it offers another reason to get those extra pounds off. Session moderator Alan Kristal, DrPH, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, agrees. Colonoscopy is one of our most powerful tools for prevention because by having polyps removed, you can prevent cancer. This offers a nice overall package of factors that affect risk, telling us who should be targeted for surveillance, he tells WebMD. Men, Older People at Increased Risk For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial, designed to assess the impact of a low-fat, high-fiber diet on polyp recurrence. All the participants had at least one polyp removed before they started following the low-fat diet mandated in the study. Over the next four years, 524 of the participants developed new polyps.

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Eating fish tied to lower risk of colon polyps

Red snappers lay on ice for sale at JMS Seafood, a fish wholesaler in the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx section of New York City June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who eat about three servings of fish per week have a somewhat lower chance of having polyps found during a routine colonoscopy than women who eat just one serving every two weeks, according to a new study. The research doesn’t prove that seafood protects against polyps, but it “does increase our confidence that something real is going on,” said Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who was not involved in this study. A polyp, also called an adenoma, is a mushroom-shaped tag of tissue that grows in the colon and can develop into colorectal cancer. The idea researchers have been pursuing is that the omega-3 fats in fish might have an anti-inflammatory effect, similar to aspirin, that could prevent the development of polyps. Giovannucci said that earlier experiments in animals have showed that omega-3 fats can reduce the risk of this cancer, but that studies of humans have had mixed results. In the latest study, the researchers surveyed more than 5,300 people about their eating habits. All of the participants had come in to the researchers’ practices for a colonoscopy. The team then compared more than 1,400 women without polyps to 456 who had adenomas detected during the procedure. Among women with adenomas, 23 percent were in the bottom fifth among fish eaters, while 15 percent were in the top fifth. That means people who eat lots of seafood are somehow protected against polyps, because otherwise the percentages should have been the same. After accounting for differences like age, smoking and aspirin use, women who ate the most fish — three servings a week — were 33 percent less likely to have a polyp detected than those who ate the least — less than a serving a week. Of course, it’s never possible to rule out that other factors could explain the findings. For instance, it’s possible that fish lovers have other healthy behaviors that decrease their risk of polyps. What’s more, the study didn’t follow the women to see whether either group was more likely to go on to develop cancer. But Dr.

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These two cancers are commonly called colorectal cancer. Colon cancer can start out as benign polyps. These polyps can eventually become cancerous and turn into colon cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. Recognizing colon cancer symptoms can also increase a patient’s chances for survival. Colon cancer causes abdominal pain or gas, and bloody stools. Other signs of colon cancer include constant cramping, diarrhea or constipation, unexplained weight loss, pain during bowel movements, and fatigue. A person should consult a doctor after experiencing the first symptoms of colon cancer. Vitamin D Increases Colon Cancer Survival A diet containing Vitamin D may help improve colon cancer survival rates. Researchers involved in a study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology (June 20 2008) came to this conclusion after analyzing 304 colon cancer patients from 1991 until 2002. Researchers looked at the patients’ blood levels to determine how much vitamin D, if any, they had in their systems. They then categorized the patients based on their vitamin D levels. According to the study, the patients with the highest levels of vitamin D were nearly 50 percent less likely to succumb to any illness, including colon cancer.

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Colon Cancer Survival Has Family Link

And the more relatives they had with a history of colorectal cancer, the better their odds. Cancer Videos Common Adult Skin Problems Related to lymphoma , leukemia , chemotherapy , radiation , mammogram , PSA test , colonoscopy , herceptin , tamoxifen , breast cancer — Colposcopy , lung cancer , skin cancer , prostate cancer , cervical cancer , colon cancer 2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. The findings suggest that as yet unidentified genetic influences are associated with both an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer and an improved prognosis for surviving the disease, Jennifer A. Chan, MD, PhD, who led the study, tells WebMD. The study appears in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association. “This is reassuring for patients with a family history, but it could also be important for treatment,” says Chan, who is an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If we are able to identify the factors associated with family risk and improved prognosis, this could help guide treatment decisions in the future.” Greater Risk, Better Survival As many as one in five colorectal cancer patients have a close family link to the disease, and having a first-degree relative such as a parent, sibling, or child with the cancer is associated with a twofold increase in risk. While it is clear that family history is an important risk factor for developing colorectal cancer, its influence on recurrence and survival are not well understood. In their effort to change this, Chan and colleagues from Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute followed 1,087 patients with stage III colon cancer who were treated with surgery followed by chemotherapy. A total of 195 patients (18%) reported a history of colorectal cancer in one or more first-degree relatives. During an average of 5 1/2 years of follow up, 29% patients with a family history of the disease and 38% of patients with no family history either died of their disease or experienced disease recurrence. Patients with a family history were 26% less likely to have their disease recur than patients with no afflicted close family members. Screening Wasn’t a Factor Aggressive colorectal cancer screening is recommended for people with a family history of the disease. The American Cancer Society recommends earlier and more frequent screening for anyone with a first-degree relative who has had the disease, especially if that relative was diagnosed before age 60.

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Prostate cancer treatment may up colon cancer risk

In some cases, biologic therapies are used in combination with chemotherapy. Deciding exactly how to treat your colorectal cancer can be complex. Your medical team will work with you to determine the best options for your individual case. In general, however, treatment depends on the stage of the disease. The following charts show treatment options for colon and rectal cancers. Treatments for Colon Cancer Chemotherapy or Biologic Therapy 0 Primary treatment; removal of cancer without cutting through the abdominal wall (local excision) or removal of cancerous polyp (polypetomy). Larger cancers may be removed along with some healthy tissue, with healthy sections of colon then sewn together (resection/anastomosis) No Primary treatment; resectionanastomosis with chemotherapy Patients may consider clinical trials after surgery Patients may consider biologic therapy or clinical trials of new chemotherapy. III Primary treatment; resection/anastomosis with chemotherapy Patients may consider clinical trials after surgery Given after surgery. Patients may consider biologic therapy or clinical trials of new chemotherapy. IV and recurrent Options include resection/anastomosis and/or removal of other organs where cancer has spread. If cancer has recurred locally, surgery may remove only the cancerous areas (local excision) To relieve symptoms in some patients Given to relieve symptoms in some patients. Some may also consider biologic therapy or clinical trials of new chemotherapy. Treatments for Rectal Cancer Chemotherapy or Biologic Therapy 0 Primary treatment; removal of cancer without cutting through the abdominal wall (local excision) or removal of cancerous polyp (polypectomy).

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everyday health for all

Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that certain hormone treatments for prostate cancer must carry new warnings about an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems. Those medications include Lupron, Zoladex, Trelstar, and Eligard. Studies in animals have also suggested that male hormones may protect against the development of colon cancer by suppressing signals the cancer cells need to grow, the authors write. So it is “conceivable” that suppressing the hormones might increase the risk of colon cancer, Dr. Vahakn Shahinian, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, told Reuters Health. He and his colleagues looked for ties between the use of ADT and colon cancer in more than 100,000 older men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1993 and 2002. The men received ADT either in the form of drugs or surgery to remove the testicles, which produce more than 90 percent of the body’s male hormones (androgens), including testosterone. Most opted for drugs. They were followed through 2004. The researchers found that men who received ADT, relative to those who did not, had a 30 to 40 percent increased risk of developing colon cancer during the follow-up period. The analysis took into account factors such as existing obesity and socio-economic environment that might influence colon cancer risk.

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Colon Cancer Treatments Need Improvements

If cancer is found in any lymph nodes, patients are advised to undergo chemotherapy to try to keep the cancer from spreading further. If no cancer is found in the lymph nodes, the initial surgical treatment is generally the only treatment needed. “Examining 12 or more lymph nodes ensures adequate staging,” said the lead author of the first study, Dr. Karl Bilimoria, a surgical resident at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Bilimoria and his colleagues wanted to know how many hospitals were actually adhering to these guidelines, and after reviewing data from almost 1,300 U.S. hospitals they found that just 38 percent were compliant. The good news from this study is that the number of compliant hospitals had increased by 23 percent since 1996. The bad news is that about 60 percent of hospitals aren’t checking enough lymph nodes to properly stage colon cancer. The study also found that National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers were most likely to test 12 or more lymph nodes, with 78 percent compliance. Veterans Administration hospitals were next with 53.1 percent compliance, followed by academic hospitals at 52.4 percent. Community hospitals were the least likely to be compliant with just one-third checking 12 or more lymph nodes after surgery. “This is a feasible thing to do. It’s not an unattainable benchmark,” said Bilimoria, who added that he believes it may simply be a matter of making sure physicians and pathologists are educated on the guidelines. In the meantime, he suggested that people undergoing colon cancer surgery ask their doctor if they take out 12 or more lymph nodes and ask for the pathology report to ensure that all have been checked. After successful treatment for colon cancer, patents should have routine follow-up visits with their physician, blood tests and a periodic colonoscopy.

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Australia facing cancer deluge

screening program could reduce bowel cancer deaths. Australia faces a huge rise in bowel cancer cases, with new research on Tuesday saying incidence of the disease will jump by 50 per cent over the next decade. Cancer Council Australia data said there would be 21,000 cases annually, putting pressure on health services. Chief executive Professor Ian Olver said the numbers underscored the urgency of introducing a full screening program to catch the disease before it develops. Australia’s national screening program currently targets people turning 50, 55 and 65, despite expert recommendations that everyone over 50 should be screened. Visiting expert Dr Heather Bryant, head of Canada’s bowel cancer screening partnership, said health experts globally agreed that screening was one of the best investments any government could make in reducing the cancer burden. “Early work in Australia on bowel cancer screening has helped to inform the rest of the world,” said Bryant. “Programs are now in place in many parts of Europe and in Canada, and all are carefully monitoring quality and impact to ensure we build on past evidence to reduce incidence and mortality from this all-too-common disease.” Melbourne man Peter Caissa was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December, aged 54, having fallen through one of the gaps in the screening program which targets only people turning 50, 55 and 65, instead of everyone over 50. “Had my cancer been picked up at an earlier stage before symptoms developed, it probably would have been easy to treat with a straightforward surgical procedure,” Caissa said. “Instead, I face a costly, arduous treatment program and an uncertain future.” Colon cancer is a major killer with some 655,000 deaths each year worldwide. The risk of contracting the disease increases with age, and it is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. AFP

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Australians passing up free bowel cancer screening

screening program could reduce bowel cancer deaths. Australia faces a huge rise in bowel cancer cases, with new research on Tuesday saying incidence of the disease will jump by 50 per cent over the next decade. Cancer Council Australia data said there would be 21,000 cases annually, putting pressure on health services. Chief executive Professor Ian Olver said the numbers underscored the urgency of introducing a full screening program to catch the disease before it develops. Australia’s national screening program currently targets people turning 50, 55 and 65, despite expert recommendations that everyone over 50 should be screened. Visiting expert Dr Heather Bryant, head of Canada’s bowel cancer screening partnership, said health experts globally agreed that screening was one of the best investments any government could make in reducing the cancer burden. “Early work in Australia on bowel cancer screening has helped to inform the rest of the world,” said Bryant. “Programs are now in place in many parts of Europe and in Canada, and all are carefully monitoring quality and impact to ensure we build on past evidence to reduce incidence and mortality from this all-too-common disease.” Melbourne man Peter Caissa was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December, aged 54, having fallen through one of the gaps in the screening program which targets only people turning 50, 55 and 65, instead of everyone over 50. “Had my cancer been picked up at an earlier stage before symptoms developed, it probably would have been easy to treat with a straightforward surgical procedure,” Caissa said. “Instead, I face a costly, arduous treatment program and an uncertain future.” Colon cancer is a major killer with some 655,000 deaths each year worldwide. The risk of contracting the disease increases with age, and it is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. AFP

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Spokesperson for the Cancer Council, Associate Professor David Smith, said people need to take more advantage of the government’s screening program. “The findings show that only a fraction of eligible people are being screened for bowel cancer despite there being a clear evidence that early detection via screening reduces bowel cancer deaths.” Smith said the results, which came from the 45 and Up study of 250,000 people, are “reasonably representative” of the population, but the reality could actually be worse. “Because the group was selected from Medicare these people may in fact be slightly more inclined to be health literate, to have healthy practices and lifestyles. And therefore we think this is probably, if anything, an overestimate of the proportion of people who are actually taking bowel cancer tests,” he told Guardian Australia . The screening test for bowel cancer is considered highly effective, however less than 40% of cases are found early. “The survival of people detected with early bowel cancer is about 93% after five years, compared with less than 10% if it’s widespread,” said Smith. “Obviously there are different stages of bowel cancer in between those two, but early detection certainly leads to better prognosis.” The tests are a little awkward, which may be why there is such a low rate of testing. The first screening test involves “faecal occult blood testing, which is to see if you’ve got blood in your poo”, said Professor Geoffrey Dobb, vice-president of the Australian Medical Association. “Many people feel a bit yucky about collecting a sample.” “It’s strange these days when just about every other bodily function is an acceptable topic of dinner table conversation. This seems to be the final frontier. That’s probably adding to people’s reluctance to actually have the test done,” said Dobb.

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Using mice that had been injected with human colon cancer cells, the scientists began by feeding the animals 8 mg/kg of lunasin daily, which reduced the number of new tumors in the liver by 55 percent. They increased the dose five times, at last achieving a 94 percent reduction in tumors at 20 mg/kg of lunasin. “We were very impressed by the reduction, but the results were short of statistical significance from the control group. More animals are needed to strengthen the power of the analysis. It’s a small study but very promising,” de Mejia said. The scientists plan to repeat the study again using 30 mg/kg of lunasin as soon as they can obtain funding. “One tumor is still too many. We’d like to see no tumors,” she said. The scientists said that consuming the equivalent of 20 to 30 mg/kg of lunasin in soy foods would be daunting in terms of number of servings per day. “But it would certainly be possible if food companies began to offer lunasin-enriched soy milk or yogurt,” she said, noting that lunasin-enriched flour is already on the market. De Mejia said that chronic daily exposure to lunasin could make an even bigger difference in terms of cancer development and metastasis. “These animals were acutely exposed to the peptide for only 28 days, and we still achieved these results.” There is evidence that lunasin accumulates in the body tissues, most notably the livers, of animals that have experienced chronic exposure to this bioactive component of soy. “Consuming soy protein regularly in the diet could be important not only for nutrition but also for cancer prevention,” she said. The researchers also plan to begin a year-long study that would model lifetime exposure to lunasin in transgenic mice programmed to develop colon cancer in contrast to a group that did not receive any lunasin, she said.

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Do not resect liver metastases in colon cancer

The protein c-MYC is referred to as a master regulator because it controls the activity of hundreds of genes, including many that drive cell growth and cell proliferation. Genetic changes that perturb its own regulation therefore have serious consequences for tissue homeostasis, and often result in cancer. Indeed, in most cancers, one finds mutations that hyperactivate the c-MYC gene. Furthermore, the c-MYC protein also plays a crucial role in metastasis – the seeding of satellite tumors in other tissues by cells from the primary tumor – because it also stimulates the so-called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In consequence, hyperactive c-MYC converts tumor cells that are proliferating non-invasively within the confines of an epithelial sheet into mobile cells with metastatic potential that leave the epithelium and can invade, and establish new tumors in distant tissues. “Using colorectal cancer as a model, we have asked whether the protein ZNF281, which we have shown to interact with c-MYC in an earlier study, plays a role in the process of metastasis,” says Professor Heiko Hermeking of the Institute of Pathology at the LMU, whose work focuses on the molecular bases of carcinogenesis. Since little was known about the mechanisms that control the ZNF281 gene itself, he and his research group took a closer look at its regulatory segment, or promoter. Their findings revealed that ZNF281 is at the hub of a complex functional network that indeed has a significant influence on tumor metastasis. “The ZNF281 promoter sequence contains several binding sites for the SNAIL protein, which is in turn involved in implementing the EMT triggered by c-MYC, and we were able to show that the metastasis-promoting role of SNAIL depends on its ability to bind to the ZNF281 promoter,” says Hermeking. In addition, the researchers demonstrated that the ZNF281 protein itself activates SNAIL, thus setting up a positive feedback loop that further increases its own expression. However, ZNF281 also directly activates other genes whose products drive the EMT, so that its role in establishing new tumors in distant tissues is not solely dependent on its interaction with SNAIL. ZNF281 is essential for metastasis The amount of ZNF281 in cells is normally limited by the action of the microRNA miR-34a, a short RNA molecule that inhibits its synthesis by a mechanism known as RNA interference. Transcription of miRNA-34a gene is in turn inhibited by SNAIL.

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Researchers identify factor that promotes metastasis of colon tumors

by lobectomy. For more abundant metastases, medicine recommends to insert a port at the liver entry an treat it locally with chemotherapy. Both recommendation are unnecessary since sooner or later metastases will recur. Some common misconceptions: 1. When observing a single liver metastasis surgeons take it as an isolated phenomenon. According the statistics here they are wrong. For each overt metastasis there are many too small to be detected. In the liver and elsewhere. 2. The second misconception is that metastatic resection cures colon cancer In my breast cancer presentation I show that once a tumor recurs, cancer is incurable. Which applies also to colon cancer.

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About 1 in 3 adults in the United

Bethany DeVito, a gastroenterologist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. The fecal test, DeVito added, spots blood in the stool invisible to the naked eye, but offers few assurances. “The gold standard is the colonoscopy,” said Dr. Dean P. Pappas, co-chief of colorectal surgery at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. In the CDC report, 62 percent of people who underwent screening chose colonoscopy. “We have patients who have normal fecal occult-blood tests but still develop colon cancer,” Pappas said. Pappas said people often avoid getting checked because of screening stigmas. He blamed three myths he wants dispelled: avoiding screening because of no family history of colorectal cancer; having no symptoms and having regular bowel movements. “That trifecta makes people feel comfortable and it shouldn’t,” he said. Dr. Rajiv Datta of South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside said he examined two patients Tuesday who had avoided screening because they didn’t have symptoms. Changes in bowel habits may signal a problem, he said. “Both ignored the symptoms until they saw blood in their stool,” Datta said.

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Sign in to YouTube Sign in with your Google Account (YouTube, Google+, Gmail, Orkut, Picasa, or Chrome) to dislike ColonCancerInfo’s video. Add to Sign in to YouTube Sign in with your Google Account (YouTube, Google+, Gmail, Orkut, Picasa, or Chrome) to add ColonCancerInfo’s video to your playlist. http://www.socalgastroenterologist.com/ Information about colon cancer as well as common symptoms. Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer or bowel cancer, includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. It is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. Colorectal cancer causes 655,000 deaths worldwide per year.[1] Many colorectal cancers are thought to arise from adenomatous polyps in the colon. These mushroom-like growths are usually benign, but some may develop into cancer over time. The majority of the time, the diagnosis of localized colon cancer is through colonoscopy. Therapy is usually through surgery, which in many cases is followed by chemotherapy. Colon cancer often causes no symptoms until it has reached a relatively advanced stage. Thus, many organizations recommend periodic screening for the disease with fecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy. When symptoms do occur, they depend on the site of the lesion. Generally speaking, the nearer the lesion is to the anus, the more bowel symptoms there will be, such as: * Change in bowel habits o change in frequency (constipation and/or diarrhea), o change in the quality of stools o change in consistency of stools * Bloody stools or rectal bleeding * Stools with mucus * Tarry stools (melena) (more likely related to upper gastrointestinal eg stomach or duodenal disease) * Feeling of incomplete defecation (tenesmus) (usually associated with rectal cancer) * Reduction in diameter of feces * Bowel obstruction (rare) Category

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Diagnosing colorectal cancer

It has been shown that removing polyps that have been discovered by rectal exams and colonoscopies can reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Tests When a person is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, that generally means they have malignant (cancerous) cells in the tissue of the colon and/or rectum. Doctors are able to make such a diagnosis by administering a variety of tests that analyze the rectum and rectal tissue as well as the blood. Catching colon cancer early with screening can greatly increase your survival. Common tests include: Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): A sample of a person’s stool is placed on a card, which is then examined under a microscope to see if there is blood in the stool, a sign of colorectal cancer. Regular FOBT testing is recommended in people aged 50-74 years, since early detection can improve treatment and survival. There are several factors that can give a positive FOBT; therefore, a colonoscopy will usually be performed if you have a positive result. Digital rectal exam: A doctor or nurse examines the rectum with a lubricated, gloved finger to feel for any irregularities in the rectum or detect the presence of any polyps. Colonoscopy: A colonoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted into the rectum to provide doctors with a comprehensive view of a person’s entire colon and the rectum. The doctors can also take out tissues or polyps (growths of tissue) so that they can be analyzed for a more complete diagnosis. Biopsy: Cells or tissues are removed from the body for further examination under a microscope. Virtual colonoscopy: A series of X-rays, called computed tomography, are placed together to form a picture of the entire colon to search for any abnormalities. This test is also known as CT colonography. Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is used to look inside a person’s rectum and lower colon, also called the sigmoid. The sigmoidoscope checks for any abnormalities, including polyps and cancer.

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Cancer Cells

Colon cancer risk factors The lifetime risk for developing colon cancer is 1-in-18 and over 90% of these cases occur after the age 50. Increasing age, a family history of colon polyps, colon cancer or other early cancers can double or triple your risk for developing this disease. If any of these risk factors run in your family, you need to start the discussion about screening at age 40 or even earlier depending on when your family members were diagnosed. Persons with ulcerative colitis , Crohns disease or a personal history of cancer are also at increased risk for colon cancer and need to tailor regular, more frequent colonoscopies. Studies also indicate that diet and smoking may increase the risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. While family history and other risk factors matter, not having risk factors does not eliminate your need for screenings. What polyps tell us As we age, about 1-in-4 of us develop polyps in our colon and about 10% of these polyps eventually turn from a benign growth into colon cancer. For the most part, these polyps take about 10 years to transform into colon cancer. Polyps and early colon cancers often have no symptoms and can be detected only by screening exams. How can colon cancer best be prevented? There are several effective ways to reduce your colon cancer risk, but none more important than getting timely screenings and removing polyps before they become malignant. Refraining from smoking, maintaining healthy weight and regular exercise, managing normal body levels of nutrients, especially vitamin D also appear to lower risk factors. Diets high in fiber are good for you, but have not been definitively shown to reduce colon cancer risk. What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

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What Are the Causes of Colon Polyps?

View my portfolio Photo Credit lung cancer image by Hector Fernandez from Fotolia.com Colon polyps are clumps of cells that form on the lining of the colon. Certain factors such as age, weight and lifestyle habits increase risk for developing colon polyps. MayoClinic.com notes that in many cases, they are non-cancerous; however, if undetected, over time the polyps can become cancerous. In some instances, polyps do not cause symptoms, which makes early detection difficult. When symptoms are present they take the form of rectal bleeding or blood in stool, obstructed bowels or abdominal pain. Physician screening for colon polyps is suggested if risk factors exist or if symptoms appear. Cell Growth The cause of colon polyp formation stems from different sources, starting with abnormal cell growth. MayoClinic.com explains that mutations in genes cause cells to divide continuously and unnecessarily. The continued growth in the colon and rectum area causes the polyps to form. Initially the formations may remain benign; however, the longer the polyps exist, the more likely they will transition into malignant cells. Colon cancer is often the result of untreated polyps. Genetic Contribution A condition referred to as familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP, is an inherited syndrome of polyps in the colon and small intestine that turns cancerous. The Cleveland Clinic explains that this condition is genetically linked to chromosome-5 and when development begins, typically it starts in the teens. Hundreds to thousands of colon polyps form in this condition and in most cases the colon or rectum of the individual with the condition has to be removed to prevent colon cancer. A 60 to 70 percent chance of inheriting FAP is likely if one parent has the condition.

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