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Video: Colon Cancer: Risk Factors & Symptoms
Colon Cancer: Risk Factors & Symptoms
Colon cancer can develop when cells in the lining of the intestine grow uncontrollably. At first, benign growths, so-called intestinal polyps, usually form. These grow slowly, can become malignant over time, and are the precursors of around 90 percent of colorectal cancers. The change from colon polyps to carcinoma can take around ten to 15 years. Several factors can increase your risk of colon cancer. These can be significantly reduced through a health-promoting lifestyle. Due to the slow tumor growth, warning signals are often noticed late…
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Certain factors have been shown to increase the risk of developing colon cancer. These include:
- Intestinal polyps (adenomas): These benign, hemispherical flat or mushroom-shaped stalked growths in the intestinal mucosa grow slowly and can become malignant over time. In most cases, they are the precursors of colon cancer. Since it cannot be determined in advance which polyp will later become tumorous, the removal of each polyp is generally indicated.
- Family predisposition (around five percent): The risk of developing colon cancer increases if close relatives (father, mother, siblings) either have colon cancer or have or had colon polyps. Almost a third of all colon cancer cases are due to a familial risk.
- The accumulation of certain other tumors (uterus, small intestine, renal pelvis, or ureter) in close relatives could indicate a hereditary risk of colon cancer ("Lynch syndrome").
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Diet & Alcohol: Colon cancer is significantly more common in countries with a high standard of living than in developing countries. Dietary habits are therefore likely to play an important role in the development of cancer. Calorie, fat and protein-rich food - especially the consumption of meat products - as well as regular alcohol consumption increase the formation of carcinogenic substances (carcinogens). Due to a low-fiber diet and the associated sluggishness of the intestine, these can linger longer and damage the intestinal mucosa. For more information, see Diet to Prevent Cancer.
- chronic inflammatory bowel disease, especially ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease with colon involvement.
- Age: The risk of developing colon cancer increases steadily from the age of 40. 90 percent of those affected are 55 years or older.
Everyone can do their part to reduce their risk of colon cancer. The following measures are particularly recommended:
- regular exercise,
- Healthy nutrition, especially adequate fiber intake, low consumption of red or processed meat,
- Avoid overweight or strive for normal weight,
- do not smoke,
- Alcohol consumption only in small amounts,
- Colon cancer screening examinations from the age of 50, earlier in the case of familial predisposition or if certain chronic inflammatory bowel diseases have existed for many years.
Colon cancer often develops over many years without causing symptoms. Typical signs are absent, especially in the early stages.
The following symptoms can indicate colon cancer, among others:
- Mucus and / or blood on or in the stool,
- dark or black stools,
- repeated bowel cramps and abdominal pain,
- foul-smelling stool,
- Stool irregularities (e.g. alternation between diarrhea and constipation),
- pencil-thin bowel movements,
- frequent bowel movements,
- Urge to defecate without defecation,
- severe flatulence, possibly with unwanted discharge of stool or mucus,
- Loss of appetite,
- unexplained weight loss,
- Pallor and anemia,
- Loss of drive and fatigue.
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