Facts and Causes of Colon (Colorectal) Cancer

Cancer, a malignant tumor, is the hysterical growth of abnormal cancerous cells in the body. These cells are also known as malignant cells and are developed in certain tissues of the body and get their name likewise, such as lung cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia (blood cancer) and so on. There is not a known specific reason for the causation of cancer. Anything that leads to the abnormal growth of cells in any part of the body is known to cause cancer. Studies have shown that the factors causing cancerous cells are produced more from environmental reasons rather than genetic. One of the many forms of cancer is the colon cancer or the colorectal cancer.

What really are the colon and the colon cancer?

Colon cancer develops in the colon or the rectum. Sometimes, there are two separate names given to the disease depending upon where it started its development; the colon cancer and the rectum cancer. The colon in our body is about six feet long. It is the final part of the digestive system and carries the leftover waste to the rectum. The basic function of the colon is to absorb the water and salt from the waste and to act as a storage place for the solid waste material. The wall of the colon combines several layers together. The development of the colon cancer cells begins in the innermost layer of the colon wall. The seriousness and the spread of the colon cancer can be determined by how deeply entrenched the cancer has developed within the layers of the wall.

The development of the cancer inside the colon may take several years. It usually begins with a small tumor inside the colon which is the abnormal growth of the tissue. This tumor may be benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). This tumor is called the polyp, and the chance of this polyp turning into cancer depends on the type of the polyp that has developed; Adenomatous polyps are known as pre cancerous and have the highest chance of turning into a cancer where as the inflammatory and the hyper plastic polyps are not pre cancerous but they can still develop cancer if formed inside the ascending colon.

Dysplasia is also a condition where colon cancer can be developed. This is inside the lining of the colon or the rectum and this is where abnormal cells can be formed which develop into cancer. Dysplasia comes with a higher chance of colon cancer development in those people who have suffered from ulcer related problems or the Crohn’s disease for a longer time period as this causes inflammation on the colon lining.

When colon cancer develops as a polyp, there are chances that it might also develop cancer in other parts of the body. The cancerous cells in the walls of the colon can start developing in the blood vessels as well as the lymph vessels. This is how cancer starts forming into other areas.

The colon cancer is classified into further types and it is important to know that more than 95% of the colon cancer developed is the form of the cancer type known as adenocarcinomas.

What are the causes of colon cancer?

Though there has been no specific reason found for what exactly causes the colon cancer, there is only one way which can affect the development of the abnormal cancerous cells; the gene mutations. These can either be inherited or completely acquired. Some people inherit changes in their genes, such as the changes in the ACP gene, which helps to keep a check on the development of cells. Any interference with this, which might be genetic in nature, can cause abnormal growth of the polyps in the colon and after some time any one of the polyp is sure to develop into cancer. The abnormal growth of the polyps is because of the elimination of the “stop” on the growth of the cells by the ACP gene. Other DNA mutations that cause colon cancer are said to have been acquired during a person’s life rather than having been inherited. But no specific cause among these has been identifies for the colon cancer development.

What are the risk factors associated with the development of the colon cancer?

Age is the factor which takes into account all the possibilities. There is a greater chance of being diagnosed with colon cancer after the age of 50.

If you were previously dealing with the growth of large polyps in your colon or intestine, you should have yourself checked regularly. As mentioned above, the growth of polyps will result in the development of colon cancer. Also, if you have had your colon cancer treatment completed and it has been completely cured, you are still at a chance of getting it again.

You are likely to be diagnosed of colon cancer if you have fought with IBD. Dysplasia, which causes the colon cancer, is developed in people who have had problems of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). People having Inflammatory Bowel Disease face prolonged inflammation of the colon. IBD also includes the Crohn’s disease.

Though family history of colon cancer plays very little role in the chances of the occurrence of the disease, yet there are cases where people diagnosed of the colon cancer have had family members who had suffered from this cancer. Even a family history of developing adenocarcinomas polyps, which are known to be developed into cancer, should be a worry.

Your diet also becomes one of the risk factors of the colon cancer if you have been consuming too much of red meats or processed meats. Also, meals that are warmed up in the microwaves or that are cooked at high temperatures, form chemicals inside which are known to cause cancer.

People with less physical activity and obesity have higher chances of developing cancer. Recent studies have also proven that smoking also leads to cancer. Long term smokers are more at risk of digestive cancers such as the colon cancer.