Colon cancer is a malignancy that arises from the lining of the colon. It is a common cause of cancer-related death, second only to lung cancer in the United States. Colon cancer typically begins as a colon polyp. Polyps are benign growths that arise from the lining of the colon. With time, mutations can occur in the DNA of polyps that can cause them to turn into a cancer. If untreated, cancers will inevitably invade through the wall of the colon and metastasize to other parts of the body.
Colon cancer can be prevented by removing polyps during colonoscopy. Colonoscopy entails an examination of the colon with a video camera on a flexible scope. For people at average risk of colon cancer, we recommend all adults receive a colonoscopy at the age of fifty. For people with a family history of colon cancer or other predisposing conditions, colonoscopy is recommended at an earlier age.
The treatment for colon cancer is to remove the cancer surgically. Based on the invasiveness of the tumor, chemotherapy may also be part of the treatment. Radiation therapy is often used in rectal cancers.