Colon cancer: early detection, symptoms, therapy

Colon cancer - more precisely colon cancer - usually occurs in the lining of the colon and often arises from colon polyps. What signs can indicate colon cancer and why early detection is so important

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The large intestine (greenish) begins in the right lower abdomen with the appendix and frames the small intestine as an ascending, transverse and descending colon. This is followed by the rectum, which opens into the anus

© W & B / Jörg Kühn

Colon Cancer - In Brief

Colon cancer usually arises from polyps in the intestinal lining. The sooner it is recognized and eliminated, the greater the chances of recovery. If possible, the tumor is completely removed by surgery. If lymph nodes or neighboring organs are already affected, chemotherapy often follows the operation. If the tumor and any daughter tumors (metastases) cannot be completely eliminated, the disease can no longer be cured, but only the life span and quality of the patient can be increased by means of palliative measures. From the age of 50, examinations for the early detection of colon cancer can take place within the framework of statutory health insurance. At this age, men are entitled to a colonoscopy, and women to an annual stool test. At 55, women can also have a colonoscopy. As an alternative to a colonoscopy, men and women can also do regular stool tests - between 50 and 54 years of age, every two years from the age of 55. People who are at increased risk of colon cancer should use screening tests sooner.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Germany. In 2014, around 33,000 men and around 28,000 women were newly diagnosed with it. Colon cancer most often affects the colon, followed by the rectum (also known as the rectum). Colon cancer is a malignant growth of cells in the lining of the colon. In most cases, the tumor arises from so-called intestinal polyps (more precisely: adenomatous polyps (adenomas)).

The large intestine begins in the right lower abdomen, where it joins the small intestine, and merges into the rectum in the left lower abdomen, which ends at the anus. It is divided into several sections: the so-called appendix (caecum) with the appendix and the colon (colon), to which the rectum connects. Colon carcinoma only refers to tumors that lie between the appendix and the beginning of the rectum.

You can read more about cancer of the rectum here: