Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. – especially in Louisiana and the New Orleans area. Early stage colon or rectal cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms, which is one of the many reasons a colonoscopy cancer screening can fall by the wayside. It’s easy to remember to visit the doctor when something is causing you pain or affecting your quality of life. With so much going on, it can be much more difficult to take a proactive approach to managing your health – especially when it includes a screening procedure that many think of as less than appealing. But Tulane Health System offers a free online risk assessment to help you quickly determine your personal risk for developing colon cancer as well as many screening options to fit your personal needs.
Colon Cancer Screening
Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most effective tools in preventing colon cancer. Over the past 20 years, deaths from colon cancer have been dropping. One reason for this is polyps are being detected by colonoscopy screening and removed before they can develop into cancer. Screening also allows cancer to be discovered earlier, when it is easily treatable. But unfortunately, there are still many people over 50 years old or at high-risk that have not be screened or are not up-to-date on their colorectal cancer screening. A colonoscopy is gold standard for colon cancer screening. But we know that they still don’t have the best reputation. However, the thought and anticipation of a colonoscopy procedure is usually much worse than the reality. Watch the video below to hear about other patients’ experience:
Colon Cancer Treatment
Our care doesn’t stop at colon cancer screening. In partnership with the Tulane University School of Medicine, Tulane Cancer Clinics offer comprehensive colorectal cancer care. A dedicated multidisciplinary team of physicians and cancer specialists work seamlessly to ensure every patient has a care plan built specifically for them with the quickest time to treatment possible.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon (large intestines) or rectum (connects the colon to the anus). Ninety to 95 percent of all colon cancers are adenocarcinomas or a cancer that begins in cells that produce mucus or other fluids. These tumors generally start as adenomas (polyps) or small benign (non-cancerous) growths.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
There usually aren’t any symptoms associated with the early stages of colon cancer. That’s why it’s even more important to be mindful of symptoms of colorectal cancer when they begin to appear and to speak with your doctor if you have concerns. Those common symptoms include:
- Weight loss without changes to diet or exercise
- Chronic fatigue
- A change in bathroom habits
- Stool that may be narrower than normal
- Blood in the stool – it can appear bright red, black or tar-like
- A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Abdominal discomfort such as gas pain, bloating, fullness, cramping
Colon Cancer Statistics
- About 25 percent of people over 50 years old have colon polyps
- Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.
- It is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States
- According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, the average lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 20
- One in seven colon cancer patients are younger than 50