Some specifics about colon cancer:
- Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.
- Nearly 106,200 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year and near about 47,200 will die from colon cancer.
- 60 to 70 million U.S. people are at risk of developing colon cancer.
- If you are getting screened you can in almost all cases effectively prevent colon cancer.
- When colon cancer is detected and treated before time, the survival rate is much high.
Colon cancer is a type of disease that does not develop in one night or within a few days. It takes years for colon cancer to capture a person. Habitually it starts in the form of polyps, benign normal growth within the colon. It takes many genetic alterations or mistakes for this polyp to turn into cancer.
Not all polyps are at risk to become cancer therefore it is critical to know the histology of the polyps removed. For examples hyperplastic polyps don’t increase your risk of cancer. This may be determined when you have to repeat your colonoscopy. Because of the slow process of cancer development, you can successfully prevent the cancer from developing by removing the polyp.
Luckily in the recent research it was established that folic acid can accelerate growth of polyps and should not be given. Folic acid was thought to prevent colon cancer, but more recent data shows that patients who have polyps or have cancer do worse with folic acids.
It is not 100% sure that colon cancer is the most preventable cancer of all because of this precancerous lesion we call a polyp. There are exceptions, for example if someone has a genetic predisposition this does not apply and cancer can develop within one year and these patients need a more extensive surgery and very close screening colonoscopies. Please make sure that all of your family members are screened at a respective age. If there are any family members diagnosed with colon cancer you may want to discuss with your gastroenterologist about having a colonoscopy earlier.