Schedule: Monday - Thursday: 8:00a - 5:00p  |  Friday: 8:00a - 2:00p

Colon Cancer Specialists in Concord, NC

What is Colon Cancer?

Most colon cancers begin as small polyps, detectable through regular cancer screening, such as colonoscopy. Regular screening and removal of polyps can eliminate the risk of colon cancer by up to 90%. Regular screening can also help detect colon cancer early when it is more treatable.

Common Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they'll likely vary, depending on the size and location in your large intestine. When they do occur, signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Rectal bleeding or bloody stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss

Common Causes of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs when cells in the colon become altered, though the cause of change is often unclear. Most often it begins as a polyp in the colon. Removing polyps before they become cancerous can prevent colon cancer. Other factors that may increase the risk of colon cancer include:

  • Age – Most people diagnosed are over 45, though it can occur in younger adults
  • Race – African Americans have a greater risk than other races
  • IBD – Inflammatory bowel diseases can increase the risk
  • Lifestyle – Factors like a low-fiber diet and a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk

How To Get Diagnosed

If you are experiencing signs of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more diagnostic tests and procedures. A colonoscopy is the primary method of diagnosing colon cancer. If anything unusual is found, your doctor will take a biopsy for analysis.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Colon Cancer

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. You can control some of these risk factors, but you cannot control others.

Risk factors you can change include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • A diet high in red meats and processed meats
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

Colorectal cancer risk factors you cannot change include:

  • A personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, including either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • Having an inherited syndrome
  • Your racial and ethnic background
  • Having type 2 diabetes

Possible Complications of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, like any other form of cancer, can have various complications. The complications can arise due to the progression of the disease, its treatment, or other factors. Here are some potential complications associated with colon cancer:

  • Metastasis: Colon cancer can spread (metastasize) to other organs and tissues, such as the liver, lungs, or distant lymph nodes. This can significantly worsen the prognosis and complicate treatment.
  • Bowel Obstruction: As the tumor grows, it may obstruct the normal flow of stool through the colon, leading to bowel obstruction. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and vomiting.
  • Perforation: In some cases, the tumor can cause a perforation (hole) in the wall of the colon. This can lead to the leakage of bowel contents into the abdominal cavity, causing infection (peritonitis), a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Anemia: Colon cancer can cause chronic bleeding, leading to iron deficiency anemia. Anemia can result in fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
  • Weight Loss and Malnutrition: Advanced colon cancer can cause a person to lose weight unintentionally. Malnutrition can occur if the cancer interferes with the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.
  • Complications from Surgery: If surgery is performed to remove the tumor or a portion of the colon, there are potential surgical complications, including infection, bleeding, and problems related to anesthesia.
  • Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation: Treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, common approaches for colon cancer, can cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and an increased risk of infection.
  • Psychosocial and Emotional Effects: A cancer diagnosis and treatment can have a significant impact on a person's mental health. Anxiety, depression, and changes in quality of life are common psychosocial complications.
  • Recurrence: Even after successful treatment, colon cancer can recur. Regular follow-up care and monitoring are crucial to detect and manage any recurrence early.

It's important to note that not everyone with colon cancer will experience these complications, and the severity can vary. Early detection and prompt treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.

What is The Treatment For Colon Cancer in NC

The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend largely on the stage of your colon cancer. The three primary options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. If the cancer is localized in a polyp and in an early stage, your doctor may be able to remove it entirely. Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery if the cancer has spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

How dangerous is colon cancer?

Colon cancer can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, especially when not detected and treated in its early stages. Its danger lies in its ability to progress silently, often without noticeable symptoms until it reaches advanced stages. Regular screening and early detection significantly improve the prognosis, highlighting the importance of routine check-ups for those at risk or of screening age.

Is Colon Cancer curable?

Colon cancer is treatable, and the chances of a cure depend on various factors, including the stage at which it is diagnosed. In the early stages, when the cancer is localized, surgical removal is often curative. However, in advanced stages, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation therapy may be employed to manage the disease and prolong survival. Regular screenings and prompt medical attention enhance the likelihood of successful treatment.

How to prevent Colon Cancer?

Preventing colon cancer involves adopting a healthy lifestyle and participating in regular screenings. Lifestyle measures include maintaining a balanced diet rich in fiber, engaging in regular physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco. Screening methods, such as colonoscopies, help detect precancerous polyps or early-stage cancer when intervention is most effective. Early detection and lifestyle choices significantly contribute to preventing colon cancer.

How do you get Colon Cancer?

The development of colon cancer is often multifactorial, involving a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Age, family history, certain genetic conditions, inflammatory bowel diseases, and lifestyle factors such as a diet high in red and processed meats, low fiber intake, sedentary behavior, and smoking can contribute to an increased risk. Regular screenings and adopting a healthy lifestyle are crucial in minimizing the risk of developing colon cancer.

Is Colon Cancer hereditary?

Yes, colon cancer can have a hereditary component. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or certain genetic syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), may have an elevated risk. However, the majority of colon cancer cases occur sporadically, without a clear hereditary link. Screening guidelines may be adjusted for individuals with a family history, emphasizing the importance of early detection in high-risk populations.

What does Colon Cancer pain feel like?

Colon cancer may not always cause noticeable pain in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, individuals may experience abdominal discomfort, cramping, or a feeling of fullness. In advanced stages, pain may become more pronounced. It's essential to be vigilant about any persistent changes in bowel habits or abdominal symptoms and seek medical attention promptly for a thorough evaluation.

Does Colon Cancer show up in routine blood work?

Routine blood work typically does not directly detect colon cancer. However, blood tests may reveal indirect markers of cancer or anemia, which can be associated with colorectal malignancies. The primary method for detecting colon cancer and precancerous polyps is through screenings like colonoscopies, which allow for direct visualization of the colon and the removal of potentially problematic growths.

Can Colon Cancer be cured?

The curability of colon cancer depends on various factors, including the stage at diagnosis. In its early stages, when the cancer is localized, surgery to remove the tumor can be curative. However, in more advanced stages, treatments like chemotherapy may be required to manage the disease and improve outcomes. Regular screenings are crucial for early detection, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment.

Can women get Colon Cancer?

Yes, women can develop colon cancer. Both men and women are at risk for colorectal cancer, and the risk increases with age. While the overall incidence is slightly higher in men, it remains a significant health concern for women. Regular screenings, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and being aware of potential symptoms are important preventive measures for women to reduce their risk of developing colon cancer.

How common is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a relatively common form of cancer worldwide. Its incidence increases with age, and various risk factors, including family history, lifestyle, and certain genetic conditions, contribute to its development. Regular screenings, particularly for individuals at higher risk or above a certain age, are essential for early detection and improved treatment outcomes.

Call Northeast Digestive Today

Easy Appointment Booking

Call 704-783-1840 to make Northeast Digestive your digestive healthcare provider today!
Northeast Digestive is a 
proud member of

Contact Info

Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
Contact Us
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram