Surgeons know that the vast majority of cases of colon cancer occur in individuals over the age of 50. In fact, statistics suggest that over 90 percent of colon cancer cases occur in those over 50, and about 60 percent of colon cancer cases occur in those over 70. With this in mind, seniors need to know about colon cancer and the surgery it may require.
Who Is At Risk for Colon Cancer?
Screening for colon cancer typically begins at age 50, but earlier screening for those with risk factors could prevent colon cancer surgery altogether. The first factor to consider is the family’s history of the disease. Those with family members with colon cancer should receive regular screenings.
Additionally, patients with a higher than average occurrence of issues like inflammatory bowel syndrome or Crohn’s could also be at higher risk for cancer. Next, you should know that individuals who are obese, who smoke, and who drink often are at a higher likelihood as well.
Diet can also play a role in one’s likelihood of contracting colon cancer. Individuals who eat a lot of processed meats, red meats, and deep-fried foods could also be at risk. You can reduce your risk of colon cancer by getting regular exercise and maintaining a weight deemed healthy by your doctor. You can also increase the fiber in your diet for a healthier colon.
Fortunately, colon cancer is a preventable cancer with detection. Of course, many people do not want to undergo invasive screenings, but they may be more likely to do it when they know that surgery is on the table otherwise.
What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer has several symptoms you may spot. If you notice these symptoms, speak with them about your doctor. Treatment options, including surgery, are available.
Symptoms include sudden changes in your bowel movement activity. Perhaps you suddenly have diarrhea each day, or maybe you are suffering from a sudden bout of constipation that doesn’t go away with changes to your diet. You might even see a change in your need to defecate.
Colon cancer symptoms also include bloody stools or bleeding in the seat of your underpants. Look for dark red staining to your stools or stomach cramping that preludes bowel movements.
Colon cancer can impact other parts of your body too. You might lose a lot of weight suddenly, or maybe you feel weak most days.
What Do Doctors Consider Before Treatment?
Seniors are a vulnerable group, so doctors must assess a patient’s fitness for treatment before considering surgery as a treatment option. For this reason, colon cancer treatment is essentially a multidisciplinary procedure. The doctor will also consider whether the patient could endure other treatment methods, like chemotherapy.
How Does Colon Cancer Surgery Work?
Surgery is often the most effective method of treating colon cancers when it is in the first two stages. If you go through surgery, you might not need chemotherapy or radiation. In this surgery, the doctor may remove the cancer, any surrounding tissue, or even part of the colon itself.
With laparoscopic surgery available, many patients are more comfortable after surgery than ever before. Patients may even get out of a long hospital stay after the surgery. Additionally, this type of surgery is great for seniors because it can reduce the risks associated with blood loss during surgery and may lead to increased recovery of the digestive system.
The Surgical Clinic knows you may be nervous about surgery, but that does not mean you don’t have options. Call us today to discuss your surgical options and to learn more about the treatments for colon cancer treatment.
Meet Some of Our Surgeons
Marc E. Rosen, MD, FACOS
Patrick S. Wolf, MD, FACS
St. Thomas West Clinic
K. Tyson Thomas, MD, FACS
St. Thomas West Clinic