Getting older is one of the top risk factors for colon cancer. But you might be surprised to learn that colon cancer rates have dropped in adults older than 55, while the disease is on the rise in those younger than 55. At Park Avenue Colon and Rectal Surgery, Marsha Harris, MD, FACS, FASCRS, has extensive experience evaluating your risks, preventing colon cancer with early detection, and providing exceptional surgical care if cancer is diagnosed. To schedule an appointment, call the office in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, or use the online booking system today.
Colon cancer occurs when cells in the tissues lining the colon grow uncontrollably. As the cells grow, they form a mass that turns into cancer.
Most colon cancers begin as polyps that grow in the lining. Colon polyps are benign (noncancerous) when they first develop. Over the years, their DNA can change, resulting in abnormal growth that becomes malignant (cancerous).
Your risk of developing colon cancer increases due to the following:
Being overweight or obese is also associated with a higher risk for colon cancer.
Most people don’t have symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer. As colon cancer progresses to a more advanced stage, you may experience:
Changes in your bowel habits might include diarrhea, constipation, or a change in the size, shape, or consistency of stools.
You can prevent colon cancer by getting a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, Dr. Harris finds and removes polyps.
The procedure prevents cancer by removing polyps before the cells mutate. Colon cancer can also be cured by eliminating malignant polyps before the cancer spreads.
Most adults with an average risk for colon cancer should get their first screening colonoscopy around the age of 45. Dr. Harris can determine your risks and recommend the best schedule for your age and health.
Treatment for colon cancer begins by removing the tumor. In the early stages, you may only need a colonoscopy.
If the cancer is more advanced, Dr. Harris recommends a surgical resection to remove the affected part of the colon along with lymph nodes. Whenever possible, Dr. Harris performs minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which uses small incisions and shortens your recovery time.
You may need radiation therapy or chemotherapy before or after your surgery. Before surgery, these treatments shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. After surgery, they kill any cancer cells that may remain in your body.
If you have questions about colon cancer, call Park Avenue Colon and Rectal Surgery or schedule an appointment online today.