Top 10 Facts about Colon Cancer Development
You’ve heard of colon cancer, but you probably don’t know how it forms. You also might not know that young-onset colon cancer is increasing at a rapid pace. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about how colon cancer develops.
Here are the top 10 facts you need to know about colon cancer development:
- Almost all colon cancer starts as a polyp that forms in the mucosa, or the innermost lining of the large intestine.
- Some individuals are more predisposed to developing polyps, especially those with a personal or family history of polyps and/or colon cancer.
- Most polyps remain benign and are often called hyperplastic polyps. Other polyps are called pre-cancerous: they are not yet malignant but could become cancerous if not removed.
- Adenomatous polyps have tubular characteristics, are associated with hereditary colon cancer, and have a higher chance of becoming cancerous.
- Adenomas often grow in a stalk-like formation, much like mushrooms. They tend to grow slowly over a decade or more.
- The likelihood that an adenoma will develop into cancer depends on its size and how long it has been growing.
- Abnormal cells in polyps are easily removed by colonoscopy in the early stages, but as the cancer cells grow and divide they can invade the wall of the colon and spread.
- If malignant adenomas (adenocarcinomas) advance, they can grow through the layers of the colon and/or rectum and metastasize. This means they can shed cancer cells into the circulatory system and potentially spread cancer to other organs.
- Fewer than 10 percent of adenomas become cancerous, but 95 percent of colon cancers develop from adenomas.
- Some polyps long considered to be benign may become cancerous as well. Because of this, doctors will remove all polyps during a colonoscopy screening. Small polyps are easily and painlessly severed and removed with a retractable wire loop that is passed through the colonoscope (Source: Johns Hopkins).
Colon cancer can affect anyone at any age, so it is important to know how polyps develop. It’s also essential to know the risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of colon cancer.
Gaining the facts will equip you with the knowledge you need to help prevent this common but avoidable disease.
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