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Cancer of the colon is a relatively common type of malignant cancer. Also known as colorectal cancer, which refers to both colon and rectal cancer, it is the third most popular type of cancer in the United States aside from skin cancers. While it can be fatal, recent improvements in preventative screening have contributed to a reduction in the death rate. Exactly what are the cure rates for colon cancer? What can someone who is diagnosed expect?
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Causes and Factors
What happens with cancer of the colon is cancerous cells begin multiplying uncontrollably within the large intestine. The body is unable to stop the growth, which eventually becomes a tumor. There is a such thing as non-cancerous growths in the colon, which are known as polyps. While polyps themselves are not malignant, they are often a sign that cancer may occur down the road. Other factors including heredity, disease, age, and poor diet can contribute to the likeliness of contracting colon cancer.
Factors that can help reduce the risk of colon cancer and the formation of polyps include a healthy, high-fiber diet that is low in processed and red meats, regular physical activity, and a healthy body weight. Regular screening for polyps starting at age fifty, especially if you have any history of colorectal cancer in the family can greatly reduce the risk of actually having the malignant cancer. According to the American Cancer Society it takes between ten and fifteen years for an abnormal growth to become cancerous.
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In 2008 the mortality rates in America for colorectal cancer were 9.9 deaths for every 100,000 cases for men and 7.7 deaths for every 100,000 cases of colorectal cancer in women.
In 2010 it is predicted that there will be 102,900 new cases of colon cancer and 36,670 new cases of rectal cancer. It is estimated that 51,370 people will die from colon cancer in the United States in the same year, but at the same time due to more awareness of preventative measures and more effective treatment options the cure rates have improved. More than one million people living in America today are survivors of colorectal cancer.
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Cure Rates for the Four Stages
There are several stages of colon cancer, known as stage I, II, III, and IV. In stage I the growths have spread from the inner lining, but not beyond the outer wall. In this early stage if the tumor is successfully removed the five-year rate of survival is 93%.
In the next stage the cancer growth is larger and has spread to the outer wall of the colon. The tumor can be removed surgically, and sometimes chemotherapy is used as well to try and prevent the cancer from reoccurring. The five-year survival rate in this case is 78%.
Once the cancer has reached the lymph nodes it is in stage III. Surgery is used if possible to remove all growths from the large intestine and nodes, then chemotherapy. It is possible that radiation therapy would be necessary if the tumor has invaded surrounding tissue as well. The five-year rate survival is 64%.
Once the cancer reaches the fourth stage the chance that the cancer will be cured drops dramatically. In stage IV it has spread to other organs such as the lungs or liver. The five-year survival rate is only 8%.
Knowing what the cure rates are is important for people who are diagnosed with colon cancer, but also for everyone who is at risk for this disease. It is obvious that when a growth is caught at the beginning the likeliness of being cured is very high. Doing what is in your control to prevent colorectal cancer, or at least the progression of a cancerous growth, is essential for ensuring successful treatment. Eat a high-fiber diet, exercise, and get regular screenings once you reach middle age.
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American Cancer Society <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-key-statistics>
National Cancer Institute <http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/icsn/colorectal/mortality.html>
Web MD <http://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/guide/treatment-stage>
photo credit: Steve Johnson (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/artbystevejohnson/4772259095/sizes/m/in/photostream/>