What is a colon tumor?

A colon tumor is an abnormal growth of cells found in the colon and can be an indication of colon cancer. If the colon tumor spreads to the lower part of the colon, also known as the rectum, it may be an indication of colorectal cancer.

Some colon tumors are not 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 develop into cancerous growths. 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 equipped with a camera and allows the doctor to see inside the colon. If the doctor sees an abnormal growth or tumor in the colon, it may be removed right away and checked for colon cancer.

Other tests used to screen for colon cancer include a fecal blood test, sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, and 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 each person for colon cancer. These factors include the person's general health, their age, medical history, family history, and the potential harm of the test to the person. Other factors considered are the accuracy of the exam, the preparation required for the exam, the convenience of taking the exam, 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 cancer death in the United States and is the third most common cancer after lung and prostate cancer in men, and lung and breast cancer in women. Heredity and personal history are some of the causes of colon cancer. The chance of getting 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 high in red meat and calories. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, 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 can be prevented if a colon tumor is detected early. If a colon tumor is not found early enough and a biopsy confirms that it is cancerous, then the tumor is treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery, or a combination of any of the three.

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