Today, colon cancer is considered the world’s third most common form of cancer.
The disease is the second leading cause of death in the western world and claims nearly 650,000 lives each year.
Yet, it was recognized by healers and practitioners throughout the ancient worl even before the advances of modern medicine.
These medical pioneers knew the importance of treating this cancer, and their traditional remedies are the subject of research by today’s healthcare professionals.
Colon cancer and other gastrointestinal illnesses have affected civilizations for centuries.
An article published in a 2007 medical journal describes how the Chinese used herbs treat the disease nearly 6,000 years ago.
Ancient Greeks relied on olive oil to cleanse their colons as a preventative practice, while traditional Indian ayuvedic medicine recommended mustard to treat what are now recognized as symptoms of colon cancer.
Western medicine made important contributions to understanding the causes of colon cancer. In 1913, American pathologist Aldred Scott Warthin first identified the hereditary link to certain kinds of colon cancer. This discovery was later named Lynch Syndrome I and II.
English pathologist Cuthbert Dukes made significant discoveries in understanding how colon cancer develops. The Dukes classification system he created in 1932 is still used to describe the stages of colon cancer.
Scientists and professionals continue to make important advancements in the treatment and prevention of the disease.
The American Cancer Society recently confirmed a 19% decline in overall cancer deaths in the U.S. One of the main factors identified in the report was the decrease in the number of deaths due to colon cancer.
Surgery to remove tumors and affected tissue remains the most common method of treating the disease. However, progress made in other areas of treatment has helped reduce the number of colon cancer deaths. In particular, chemotherapy drugs released in 2000 have proven effective in treating some stages of the disease.
Promising research is also underway for a vaccine to prevent colorectal cancer. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is currently testing the drug in a dozen patients considered high-risk for developing the disease.
Specific forms of colon cancer have been shown to run in families, but the exact cause of the most common type of the disease is still unknown. Research does support that certain activities and lifestyle choices can significantly increase your risk for developing the disease.
For example, studies have shown that preventative practices like getting regular colonoscopies can lead to life-saving early detection of the disease. Since women are far less likely to receive regular colonoscopies, they are considered higher-risk than men.
The following are ways you can reduce your risk of colon cancer: