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Colon cancer

Colon cancer, a form of bowel cancer, is more common in older people. As part of the digestive system, the colon is an organ in the large bowel and moves waste food to the rectum and anus.

>   Symptoms and risk factors

Common symptoms of colon cancer include blood in your stools, bleeding from the anus and changes in normal bowel habits.

Doctors haven’t yet determined the precise cause of colon cancer, but the risk of getting it increases when you’re 75 and over, and if you eat red meat, smoke, are overweight or physically inactive. Other risk factors include inflammatory bowel conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, and type 2 diabetes.

>   Diagnosis

A specialist doctor will examine your rectum to feel for any lumps or swelling in your back passage. We will usually test your blood, too, to check for anaemia and make sure your liver and kidneys are functioning properly.

We will then typically perform a colonoscopy – an outpatient procedure that looks at the inside of the large bowel. If we find cancer in your colon, we’ll carry out further blood tests and scans to determine the best treatment.

>   Treatment

As the most common treatment for colon cancer, surgery is often used to remove cancer from the colon or rectum. After surgery, we may also use chemotherapy to eradicate any remaining cancer cells.