The colon is part of the lower digestive system where waste material is stored before it is finally expelled from the rectum and out of the body. Tumors in the colon and rectum are growths from the walls of the large intestines. Benign tumors are called polyps and malignant growths are called cancers.
Cancers of the colon and rectum is the third most common cancer in both men and women in America. Individuals should be aware that risk factors that increase their risk of developing this cancer include age, a diet rich in fat and cholesterol, inflammatory bowel diseases and genetic predisposition.
Individuals will require testing in order to accurately diagnose the difference between a benign growth and a malignant growth. Benign polyps are easily removed during a colonoscopy and are not life-threatening. They are, however, pre-cancerous and can become malignant over time. Researchers believe that the majority of cancers in the large intestines have developed from polyps. It is for this reason that physicians recommend their patients undergo colonoscopies on a consistent basis. Individuals who are at higher risk because of family history should have them more frequently.
If colorectal disease is suspected, the physician will work to determine if the symptoms are due to cancer and not to another cause. Tests will include a physical examination, a colonoscopy, signmoidoscopy, blood tests, fecal blood test and biopsies during the colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy.
During a colonoscopy the physician uses and instruments that it has in to the colon. It is more precise than an x-ray and is done by a gastroenterologist, a well-trained subspecialists. A colonoscopy can be used to remove the polyp or to take a biopsy for further analysis.
A colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to evaluate problems that may originate from the lower intestines and could have first been identified by other testing.
Cancers of the colon and rectum which are also referred to as colorectal cancer, can invade and damage be tissues and organs outside of the large intestines. These cells will also break away and spread to other parts of the body truth the lymphatic and blood vessels. The spread of cancer to organs outside of the primary organ is called metastasis.
Symptoms that indicate an individual should undergo a colonoscopy will include rectal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia, abdominal pain, positive fecal blood test, patients with previous polyps or cancer, and patient’s with a history of bowel cancer or polyps in a first degree relative. Other indications include an alteration in bowel habits, clarification of a barium enema and used for surveillance of inflammatory bowel disease.
If cancer is found early statistics show that colorectal cancer is curable using surgery and dietary changes. Physicians may also recommend chemotherapy if the disease has reached the lymph nodes.
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