A colon tumor is an abnormal growth of cells found in the colon and can be an indication of colon cancer. If the tumor spreads to the bottom part of the colon, also known as the rectum, it can be an indication of colorectal cancer.
Some colon tumors are non-cancerous and are called benign polyps. Since benign polyps do not cause colon cancer, they are not dangerous, but if they are not identified and removed, they can change into cancerous tumors. Benign polyps are identified and removed through a procedure called a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a long, plastic, flexible tube into the colon through the rectum. The tube is fitted with a camera and allows the doctor to see inside of the colon. If the doctor sees any abnormal growth or a colon tumor, he can remove it immediately and test it for colon cancer.
Other tests used to screen for colon cancer are a fecal blood test, a sigmoidoscopy, a virtual colonoscopy, a double contrast barium enema and a digital rectal exam. Each test has its own advantages and disadvantages and a medical expert considers certain factors to determine which test to use to screen colon cancer in each person. These factors include the general health of the person, his age, medical history, family history and the potential harm of the test to the person. Other factors considered are the accuracy of the test, the preparation required for the test, the convenience of taking the test and whether or not sedation is required. Some medical experts also consider the cost of the test and whether or not it is covered by insurance.
Colon cancer causes the third most cancer deaths in the United States and is the third most common cancer after lung and prostate cancer for men, and lung and breast cancer for women. Inheritance and personal history are some causes of colon cancer. The chance of getting the cancer also increases with age. Other causes of colon cancer are lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol, lack of physical activity and a diet rich in red meat and calories. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish and low in fat can help prevent colon cancer.
Symptoms of colon cancer are blood in the stool, change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss and persistent fatigue. Colon cancer is preventable if a colon tumor is detected early. If a colon tumor is not detected early enough and is confirmed by a biopsy to be cancerous, then the tumor is treated through chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery or a combination of any of the three.