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What is Colon Cancer?

What is colorectal cancer?

Tumor cells can grow from abnormal cells cancer cells in the large intestine and rectum

These cancer calls start as small growths and eventually get bigger and spread to the rest of the body

Early on, the growth can be taken out easily without surgery and doesn’t need additional treatments, but once the cancer spreads, the patient will need chemo therapy and may need part or their colon removed

Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Digestive Disorders Library
Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Digestive Disorders Library

Why should I care?

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the country and in Georgia

Colorectal kills over 50,000 people yearly across the country and 1,400 people in Georgia

Colon cancer is preventative and/or treatable if detected at an early stage

Easy, effective methods of screening are readily available

What are some symptoms?

Early cancer may manifest as fatigue or diminished appetite however most of the time there are no symptoms, thus it’s important to get screened

Patients may experience a change in bowel habits such as bloody or narrow stools, weight loss, abdominal pain

What do I need to do?

Get screened!

Anyone over the age of 50 needs screening.

Patients with a family history of colon cancer may need earlier screening (communication with your doctor is critical)

Lots of options exist for screening including: colonoscopy, fecal sample tests (FIT, FOBT, cologuard), flexible sigmoidoscopy

Which test should I choose?

The gold standard is currently colonoscopy. In this test a gastroenterologist or surgeon will use flexible tube with a light and camera at the end of it called a colonoscope to thoroughly examine your colon and take out any precancerous growths. This is the only test that can actually prevent colon cancer. This test generally needs to be done every 10 years.

FIT is a stoolbased test that is very effective. Your doctor will provide a card to place a stool sample on. If this test is positive, you will need a colonoscopy to examine and remove pre-cancerous lesions

Image Courtesy of
Image Courtesy of


-McNamara C, Bayakly AR, Ward KC. Georgia Cancer Data Report, 2016. Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry, December 2016.

-Mortality Web Query 2012-2016. Colon cancer deaths. 4 March 2018 . Georgia Dept of Public Heath.

-CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program

-Tangka, FK ‎2017Eval Program Plann. 2017 Jun;62:64-66 Importance of implementation economics for program planning—evaluation of CDC’s colorectal cancer control program

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