Understanding Colon Cancer

By A. Richard Adrouny | Go to book overview

9

. Prevention

The concept of colon cancer prevention (and perhaps elimination) is not a radical one, nor is it unrealistic. Furthermore, prevention of colorectal cancer could have momentous public health and economic impact on the United States, where as many as 140,000 people each year are diagnosed with this disease.

The conjecture that colon cancer is preventable is based on several notable and unique features of this disease. Colon cancer originates from the mucosal layer of the bowel, which is completely accessible to visual inspection by means of endoscopy. The forerunner of colon cancer is the polyp in as many as 85 percent of cases. This can be both discovered and liquidated at one sitting. People who have polyps can be kept under surveillance for development of future polyps. In addition, there is a long period of time between the first stages of colon cancer development and the stage at which it becomes symptomatic, providing the opportunity to screen for and remove the diseased cells before they spread.

Moreover, epidemiological studies strongly suggest that diet is a factor in the pathogenesis of colon cancer, as described in chapter 1. If this is true, then dietary change on a population- wide scale should reduce the incidence of colon cancer, and individual attention to diet should provide personal benefit as well.

The progression of benign changes in the bowel mucosa to malignancy is well understood. The genetic changes that propel the step-by-step development of cancer are also being mapped out. Thus, prevention may be aimed at one or more of the steps leading to cancer. Testing for genetic markers of this disease is available, albeit in crude form, and in the future may help patients and doctors predict colon cancer development.

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Understanding Colon Cancer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Understanding Colon Cancer *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • 1 - Who Gets Colon Cancer and Why *
  • 2 - The Colon *
  • 3 - How Colon Cancer Develops *
  • 4 - The [look] of Colon Cancer *
  • 5 - The [feel] of Colon Cancer *
  • 6 - Stages and Prognosis of Colon Cancer *
  • 7 - Surgical Treatment of Colon Cancer *
  • 8 - Treatment of Later Stages of Colon Cancer *
  • 9 - Prevention *
  • 10 - The Future *
  • Appendix *
  • Glossary *
  • Index *
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