Colon Cancer Facts:
Symptoms, Causes and Survivability

In this article you'll learn common colon cancer facts like the symptoms, causes, treatments, stages and of course survivability.

Colon and rectal cancer are often referred to as colorectal cancers. The colon is the lower part of your digestive system and when doctors say rectal they are referring to the last 6 or 7 inches of your colon.

Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the U.S.

Colorectal cancer is expected to cause almost 50,000 deaths in 2009. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths when both sexes are combined.

The American Cancer Society estimated in 2008 that almost 150,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancer would be diagnosed in 2009. They estimate that the lifetime risk of developing cancer is about 1 in 19, or 5.4 percent. It is slightly higher in men than in women.

The good news is that the death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years. There are many reasons for this, but researchers believe that it is because cancer is now being found earlier when the disease is a lot easier to cure.

In addition to this, treatment has improved over the years. More and more people survive this disease and there are now more than 1 million survivors in the United States alone.

11 Potential Causes of Colon Cancer

What causes colon cancer? There are a lot of potential causes and researchers are finding new ones all the time. The best thing you can do is live a healthy life and be aware of what you put in your mouth.

With what said, here is a list of the most common causes...

  1. Age
  2. Alcohol
  3. Diabetes
  4. Diet
  5. Environment
  6. Family
  7. Genetics
  8. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  9. Obesity
  10. Polyps
  11. Smoking

For a more detailed view on the above causes, read my article; what causes colon cancer?

People also usually wonder if hemorrhoids cause colon cancer, the short answer is no, hemorrhoids cannot cause colon cancer, but they do have similar symptoms. This can lead to people avoiding to go and see their doctor because they believe that it is only hemorrhoids.

The Different Stages of Colon Cancer

There are five stages of colon cancer that you can go through, there is also a stage when the cancer reoccurs or comes back, this is called recurrent cancer. Each stage usually has a different treatment option.

Here are the different stages...

  1. Stage 0 (also called Carcinoma in situ)
    This is the first and earliest stage. It is when the cancer hasn't moved and is still restricted to the inner lining of the colon. Stage 0 cancer is usually easily removed with a colonoscope, the same thing they use when doing a colonoscopy. The survival rate is high when the disease is detected this early, around 96 percent of people with Stage 0 cancer survive at least 5 years.

  2. Stage 1
    The cancer has spread beyond just the inner lining of the colon to the middle layers. It hasn't gone far, but it is moving. The most common treatment is a surgical resection, where a surgeon removes the affected part of the colon. The survival rate is still high, around 90 percent are still alive after 5 years.

  3. Stage 2
    Cancer has spread outside the colon and rectal area to nearby tissue. It has not yet reached the lymph nodes. There are two sub-stages in Stage 2, A and B. In Stage 2A the cancer has made it through the muscle layers or spread to nearby tissue. In Stage 2B, cancer has spread beyond the colon wall into nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum (the tissue that lines the abdominal wall). The survival rate is still high, about 90 percent of people afflicted survive are alive after 5 years.

  4. Stage 3
    One of the more advanced stages, cancer has now spread outside the colon to the lymph nodes. This stage has three sub-stages, A, B and C. They tell how far the cancer has gone and how many different areas it has affected. The survival rate is around 55 percent for people five years after their first diagnosis. This number goes up or down, depending on if you are in Stage 3A, 3B or 3C. 3A has better chances of surviving than 3C for example.

  5. Stage 4
    The cancer has spread to other organs in the body, the lungs and liver are prime examples. Surgical resection and chemotherapy are the usual treatments, other treatments might or might not be needed depending on the person. At stage 4, there is only a 3 percent chance of surviving the 5 year time period.

Remember, all these survival statistics are generalizations, they are just colon cancer facts. They might not have any much relevance in your case.

Treatments for Colon Cancer

There are many different colon cancer treatments available today, both natural and non-natural.

If you want more information about natural options I recommend you contact your natural health care practitioners and ask for advice.

I will briefly outline what treatment is generally given in today's hospitals.

The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on how far your cancer has developed, in other terms, what stage it has progressed to.

For example, the early signs of colon cancer require less stressful techniques than the last stages of colon cancer.

Here is a quick list...

Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ) - The usual treatment here is by a colonoscope and is usually pain-free and without complications. If the tumor is too large to remove by a local excision, a resection will be used. This is when a part or all tissue is removed from an organ.

Stage 1 - The most common treatment is a resection and anastomosis. Anastomosis simply means that after the resection, the surgeon will connect healthy parts of your body to replace the removed sections.

Stage 2 - Various different treatment options can be tried. Resection and anastomosis with chemotherapy is usually tried. After your treatment you might go through biological therapy, this is where your immune system is restored and given a boost so that your immune system is strong enough to fight infections and other diseases.

Stage 3 - This stage usually looks a lot like Stage 2. Resection, anastomosis with chemotherapy, followed by biological therapy.

Stage 4 - Again, resection and anastomosis is tried. Chemotherapy (also known as radiation therapy) with biological therapy may be used as well.

Clinical Trials - Patients are sometimes given the option to try new ways to treat cancer. These might be new drugs or new methods that are still in the experimental phase.

If you'd like to read more, feel free to browse the related articles below for more information. Learning more about this disease can help you prevent and cope with it.

Also make sure you're familiar with the common warning signs.


1. American Cancer Society - Statistics for 2008
2. National Cancer Institute - Stages
3. American Cancer Society - Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

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