Colon cancer

What is Colon Cancer? Colon Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer (CRC), refers to cancers of the small and large intestines. These cancers are the third most commonly diagnosed and are notorious for having a high mortality rate. However, the overall mortality has decreased with diagnostic advances and changes in screening protocols, affording early detection and treatment.

What causes Colon Cancer?

The pathomechanism implicated in the development of colon cancer is the transformation of a precancerous adenoma into invasive carcinoma. 

Risk factors include:

  • Inherited CRC syndromes, including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome
  • Family history of sporadic colorectal cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes mellitus/insulin resistance
  • Uncontrolled acromegaly
  • Long-term immunosuppression associated with renal transplantation.
  • Exposure to abdominal radiation is the most common risk factor in children.
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Poor diet and lack of physical exercise

Signs and symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer most often presents with suspicious symptoms that can include:

  • Rectal or abdominal mass
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in bowel frequency, consistency, or color
  • Blood in stool
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

A subset of asymptomatic patients are first suspected of disease through routine screening, usually at an earlier stage. A smaller group of patients are diagnosed during emergent abdominal procedures, such as surgery for obstruction, peritonitis, and perforation.

Source: Lotfollahzadeh S, Recio-Boiles A, Cagir B. Colon Cancer. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: