What to expect after a colon cancer diagnosis
Around one in twenty people will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their lives. If caught early, colon cancer can often be treated successfully, but the disease is still responsible for around 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. A colonoscopy exam is the best way to detect colon cancer early, and most cases are found during this type of screening exam.
What is colon cancer, and what are the symptoms?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon, which is the large intestine. Symptoms can include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits (such as constipation or diarrhea), unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. Many people with colon cancer don’t have any symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
Screening tests such as colonoscopy exams can detect colon cancer early when it’s most treatable. If you are 50 years or older, your doctor may recommend that you get screened for colon cancer every ten years. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may need to be screened more often.
A colonoscopy exam is the best way to detect colon cancer early. During this procedure, a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and passed through the colon. The doctor can then look for any abnormal areas in the colon that may be cancerous.
If colon cancer is found during a colonoscopy exam, you will likely need additional treatment. Treatment options for colon cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. You will be referred to a specialist (such as a surgeon or oncologist) for further care.
With treatment, the prognosis for colon cancer is often very good. The earlier the cancer is found, the better the chances for a successful outcome. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for colon cancer and when you should get screened.
How is colon cancer diagnosed?
A colonoscopy exam is the most common way to diagnose colon cancer. During a colonoscopy, a doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end into your rectum to examine your colon and upper intestine. If any abnormalities are found, the doctor may take a biopsy (a sample of tissue) to test for cancer.
If colon cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will likely refer you to a specialist for additional care. Treatment options for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
After diagnosis – what to expect.
After a colon cancer diagnosis, you will likely be referred to a specialist for additional care. Treatment options for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. It is important to stay positive and work with your doctor to choose the best treatment plan for you.