By The Numbers

Colon CancerColon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cancer killer. Colorectal cancer also is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. In 2003, more than 55,000 people in the United States died of colorectal cancer. If everybody aged 50 or older had regular screening tests, as many as 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

The risk of developing colon cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older. Other risk factors include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
  • Certain hereditary syndromes

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to increased risk of colorectal cancer include:

  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • A low-fiber and high-fat diet
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

Colorectal cancer first develops with few, if any symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Blood in or on the stool
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Stools narrower than usual
  • General, unexplained stomach discomfort
  • Frequent gas, pains or indigestion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

The above information was obtained from the following Web sites, please visit them for additional information: