Colon cancer strikes males and females equally. Around the world it is more frequent in industrialized countries, and this suggests genetic and environmental influences. In the United States it affects Blacks and whites equally, but native Americans have a much lower recurrence rate.
Among environmental factors diet has been implicated. It is felt that a high fiber diet which speeds up the transit of food through the colon and minimizes the contact time of potential dietary carcinogens to the inner lining of the gut, will decrease your chances colon cancer.
Genetics is related to colon cancer and was first demonstrated in a condition named familial adenomatous polyposis. This condition accounts for less than 1% of colon cancer and is linked to the APC gene. Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer or Lynch syndrome is another genetic linked cause of colorectal cancer. Typically, 3 or more family members will have had colon cancer with 1 being diagnosed before the age of 50.
There is no effective prevention for colon cancer but periodic screening can find precancerous lesions and remove them before they become a cancer. It is recommended that when you reach the age of 50, you have a screening colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is a procedure using a flexible telescope to look at the inside of your colon which is approximately 5 feet long. If you have a family history of early colon cancer, then your first screening should be early than the age of 50. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 53, it is recommended that your first screening occur at age 43. When you’re establishing care with your primary provider be sure to give them as much detail about your family’s medical history, so they can tailor their recommendations to your specific situation.
The treatment for colon cancer is anatomical resection of the involved portion of the colon coupled with chemotherapy if necessary. The recommendation for chemotherapy is based on the stage of your colon cancer. With regular examinations and screening colonoscopy, colon cancer can be diagnosed earlier and give you a better chance of being cured.