Colon Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options
Colon cancer is an inclusive term referring to any cancer that begins in the colon, or the large intestine in your digestive tract. There are several types of cancer that affect the colon, distinguished by which kinds of cells the cancers start in; the majority of cases are classified as adenocarcinomas, which affect epithelial cells that line the colon.
WHAT CAUSES COLON CANCER?
The medical community is still unsure about what causes colon cancer to start, but certain risk factors can increase the chances that a person will develop the condition. In the case of intestinal cancers, common risk factors include:
- Having a genetic or inflammatory intestinal condition, such as Crohn’s disease
- Having a family or personal history of colorectal cancers
- Being obese
- Eating a poor diet that includes lots of processed or red meats
- Smoking or using other tobacco products
- Drinking alcohol in excess
Another risk factor is being over the age of 50. While the majority of colon cancer cases are indeed diagnosed in older adults, the condition is becoming increasingly common in younger adults. This is a concern, as many young adults don’t know or don’t pay attention to the telltale signs of colon cancer.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER?
The symptoms of colon cancer don’t always show up in the earliest stages of its development. That’s why undergoing cancer screenings that can detect precancerous developments and malignancies are so important!
When signs of colon cancer do occur, they most commonly include:
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation that last longer than a few days
- Blood in stool or bleeding hemorrhoids
- Abdominal cramping
- Unintentional weight loss
While these symptoms can indicate cancer, all of these signs can also be associated with any number of other, less serious circumstances. But it’s best to let a medical professional come to that conclusion after running diagnostic tests. Don’t ignore these symptoms if you have them–schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms with a physician!
TREATING COLON CANCER AT TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL
At Tampa General Hospital's Cancer Institute, our expert colorectal oncologists can diagnose and treat all types of colon cancer and other colorectal conditions. Our multidisciplinary team of physicians, surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists are dedicated to finding the solution to your specific issues and can draft a comprehensive treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs.
If you have colon cancer, the goal of treatment will be to eliminate as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. To that end, our experienced surgeons can perform polypectomies, local excisions and other procedures. We even offer a variety of minimally invasive procedures that can get you back to normal life faster than some traditional procedures allow.
Tampa General Hospital has earned “high performing” designation for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report for 2023-24, meaning we are ranked among the top 10% of U.S. hospitals. We also rank as “high performing” for colon cancer surgery.
For a physician referral, please use our Physician Finder tool or call 813-844-7585.