As with all cancer, early detection is important. This cancer may exhibit no signs in its early stages. Gradually, as it progresses, any of the following may be noted: a change in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation or a sense that the bowel is not empty, blood (either bright red, or dark) in the stool, abdominal discomfort, pelvic pain, weight loss for no apparent reason, constant tiredness and fatigue, anemia due to blood loss, and vomiting.
A colonoscopy, which is what is often recommended as a follow-up to other procedures if there is evidence of possible cancer, offers the most thorough look at the whole colon and only needs to be done every 10 years if no cancer is found. However, it is more expensive than the other procedures and requires preparation a day ahead of time.
- Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a cancer marker. Go to our cancer tests page for more information.
- DR-70 is a simple blood test - Go to our cancer tests page for more information.
- Hemoccult Test for colorectal cancer tests for blood in the stool. A positive finding warrants having further tests, like a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to detect polyps and tumors. This test can be performed by almost any doctor's office. Note: A hemoccult test can yield a false positive if the person has recently consumed fresh fruits and vegetables, red meat, iron tablets or vitamin C tablets. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also cause false positives. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
- PreGen-26 - a new DNA Test for Colorectal Cancer is not a predictive test but a test to detect the presence of actual disease in people with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). People with HNPCC have an 80% lifetime risk of developing the disease. The test, a stool-sample test was developed by Exact Sciences Corp. and is being commercialized by Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp, Burlington, NC, USA). In active colorectal cancer, DNA from tumors is shed into the colon and carried out of the body in stool. Patients collect stool samples and send them to LabCorp, who will send the test results to the patient's doctor for use in determining future monitoring and treatment.
- CEA is a blood test which indicates the presence of the cancer. Go to our cancer tests page for more information.
Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ is very early cancer - found only in the innermost lining of the colon.
Stage I - The cancer has spread beyond the innermost lining of the colon to the second and third layers and involves the inside wall of the colon, but has not spread to the outer wall of the colon or outside the colon. Sometimes called Dukes A colon cancer.
Stage II: Cancer has spread outside the colon to nearby tissue, but it has not gone into the lymph nodes. Sometimes called Dukes B colon cancer.
Stage III: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes called Dukes C colon cancer.
Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones, or lungs. Sometimes called Dukes D colon cancer.
Recurrent - The cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the colon or in another part of the body. Recurrent cancer of the colon is often found in the liver and/or lungs.
We don't have the most recent stats, but the American Cancer Society shows the one-year survival rate for colorectal cancer at about 81%. The five-year survival rate is 61%. The 10 year survival rate overall is 50%.
Diet programs seem to help, such as Gerson or Hallelujah diet. Juicing.
For a list of doctors that are comfortable treating colon cancer using alternative or integrated approaches, go to our directory of clinics page.
New studies by researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute indicate that vitamin D protects against colon cancer by helping to detoxify cancer-triggering chemicals that are released during the digestion of high-fat foods. One should not overdue the amount of vitamin D they take as it can produce hypercalcemia, but if one gets adequate exposure to the sun, the body can manufacture Vitamin D. Go to Howard Hughes' website for more information.