Colon Cancer, Is it Genetic?
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a type of colon disease that can be treated if it's found in its early stages. It occurs when small growths called polyps form on the colon wall, and these polyps grow into cancer.
How do you get colon cancer?
While doctors are not sure why cancer occurs, they have identified factors that increase your chances of developing the disease. If anyone in your family has had colon problems caused by polyps or cancers, you are at increased risk of getting colon issues. You should also note that having ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease may increase cancer risk
Some warning signs and symptoms include:
- Blood in your stool or dark, tarry stools
- Losing weight for no known reason
- Fatigue and unexplained fever
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Unexplained anemia (lack of red blood cells)
You should talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms. The earlier it is caught, the more likely it can be treated successfully.
Is colon cancer genetic?
While colon polyps and other colon issues can be caused by inheriting specific genes from family members, there's currently no known cancer genetic link.
If colon polyps or cancer run in your family, your doctor may recommend that you get a test called a colonoscopy. This test allows doctors to look at the lower colon and rectum for any unusual growths that could develop into cancer. Doctors recommend having a colonoscopy every ten years if you're over age 50 or have risk factors like:
- A blood relative who has had colon problems caused by polyps or cancers
- Ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon)
- Crohn's disease (inflammation of the colon)
- A personal history of colon cancer
- Adenomatous colon polyps (a genetic disorder)
Other colon cancer testing recommendations include:
Anoscopy: A procedure in which a short, flexible tube with a light and camera is inserted through the anus to check for any unusual growths in the lower part of the colon.
Colon ultrasound: An imaging test that uses sound waves to create images of your insides. Along with colon cancer, colon ultrasounds may be used to look for abnormal growths in the colon wall, indicating stage 4 colorectal cancer. Your doctor may also talk to you about having a stool DNA test done. This test looks for an early sign of colon cancer in your colon tissue.
What does colon cancer look like?
The colon is the large intestine, whereas colon cancer refers to a malignant tumor found within the colon or rectum. Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Bloody stool
- Anemia due to blood loss
- Pronounced tiredness and fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramping or pain These symptoms are not only attributed to colon cancer but to other diseases that can cause similar gastrointestinal ailments such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and intestinal infections. If you experience any of the symptoms, you must speak to a doctor immediately.
What does colon cancer look like?
Colon cancer is the growth of abnormal cells within the colon, resulting in colon polyps or colon cancer. The colon is part of your digestive system and moves food along as it absorbs nutrients. Suppose you have colon polyps or colon cancer. In that case, these growths could become colon cancer if they aren't removed, so doctors will often recommend a colonoscopy to view the lower portion of your colon for these issues.
Can I prevent colon cancer?
Doctors are still unsure what causes cancer. Still, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk for developing the disease, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, eating more fruits and vegetables, controlling high blood pressure, and detecting its symptoms early.