Cancer of the colon or rectum is called colorectal cancer. It develops in the digestive tract from harmless polyps that over time mutate into a cancerous tumor. The cancer cells then invade and destroy nearby tissue and can break away to form new tumors in other parts of the body, a process called metastisis.
Fortunately colon cancer is both preventable and highly treatable when detected early. Leading an active, physical life and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables with their protective phytochemicals are the first steps. It is estimated that lifestyle changes alone could decrease the risk of colon cancer by 60 percent to 80 percent!
But a healthy lifestyle isn't enough; screening and early detection are keys to survival. People with colon cancer may be asymptomatic for many years, and precancerous lesions or polyps may take 10 years to transform from benign to malignant. When caught early, the likelihood of full recovery is excellent; more than 90 percent of patients with early stage colon cancer survive more than five years.
Are you at risk? Find out now
For more information about cancer prevention and early detection, visit the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's Cancer Prevention Clinic.