The colon, or large intestine, is the last part of your digestive system. Colon cancer often is characterized by precancerous polyps — small, benign clumps of cells that can form in the colon and over time become cancerous. Colon cancer is also sometimes referred to as colorectal or rectal cancer, which describes cancers that start in the rectum and may then spread to the large intestine.
If you’ve found yourself asking “how common is colon cancer?”, the statistics might surprise you. With the exception of skin cancer, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women each year in the United States. According to cancer.net 1 , there are 101,420 new cases of colon cancer (51,690 men and 49,730 women) and 44,180 new cases of rectal cancer (26,810 men and 17,370 women) every year.
From age and gender to hereditary diseases, this article will take a closer look at colon cancer, risk factors, and how it affects various groups. Keep in mind that although colon cancer often shows no symptoms, with early screening and testing, it is preventable and treatable.
Knowledge is the first step to prevention whether it be through colon cancer natural treatment options or other methods. And at Immunity Therapy Center, we’re here to keep you informed and help you stay happy and healthy.
Age & Gender
Although colon cancer 2 can occur in children, teenagers, and young adults — the majority of people diagnosed are over the age of 50 (in 91% of cases) 3 . The average and common age for colon cancer diagnosis for both men and women is 63, though men have a slightly higher risk of developing colon cancer than women do.
Rates of colon cancer 4 have been declining in adults who are over the age of 50, yet increased in adults under the age of 50. Between 1998 and 2007, cases increased by over 2% each year in younger adults, with people in their 30s being roughly 30% more likely than other age groups to be diagnosed with cancers that are in stage III or stage IV. Whatever the age of the individual, finding colon polyps and cancer in its earlier stages means that it’s easier to treat. Improved options for colon cancer treatment have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.
Survival Rates 5, based on information from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance are as follows:
- The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the local stage is 90%.
- The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the regional stage is 71%.
- The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer found at the distant stage is 14%.
- There are currently more than one million colorectal cancer survivors alive in the US.
Stage of Diagnosis 6 , according to the American Cancer Society:
- 39% of colon and rectal cancer patients are diagnosed with localized-stage disease.
- 35% of colon and rectal cancer patients are diagnosed with regional- stage disease.
- 21% of colon and rectal cancer patients are diagnosed with distant-stage disease.
Colon Cancer, Family History, and Hereditary Diseases
When asking how common colon cancer is, individuals often wonder about its connection to family history and hereditary diseases.
If your family members have had colon cancer, there’s a chance it may run in your family. If your first-degree relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, children) or any other family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins) have had colon cancer, you might be at a greater risk to develop this particular type of cancer. If there is, in fact, a family history of colorectal cancer, particularly if relatives were diagnosed at a young age, then your chance of developing it nearly doubles.
With inherited genes 7, mutations can be passed on from your mom, dad, or both. Environmental factors, like chemicals, oxidants, viruses, and radiation, can also trigger mutations. These mutations end up in the cells of the body and can often cause multiple polyps to form. Often, these polyps are too large to be removed by colonoscopy, so they must be removed in other ways. If you don’t monitor and remove polyps, then they progress to colon cancer.
An increased risk of colon cancer has also been linked to certain rare inherited conditions. These are passed from generation to generation within a family, making individuals more likely to develop colon cancer themselves. However, monitoring inherited diseases along with their symptoms means you can catch the cancer before it starts or progresses. Here are some of the hereditary conditions that have been linked to colon cancer.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis 8 (FAP)
FAP is a genetic condition where more than 100 adenomatous colon polyps develop. These polyps can often begin to develop in the-mid teens as an area where normal cells that line the colon begin to form a mass on the inside of the intestinal tract. When FAP is not treated, there’s a higher likelihood that colon cancer will develop.
Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis 9 (AFAP)
AFAP is often associated with multiple adenomatous colorectal polyps (20 to 100 polyps). AFAP is typically developed later in life than classic FAP and if it’s not treated, colon cancer risk increases.
Gardner Syndrome 10
Gardner Syndrome is a variant of FAP in which people develop both multiple adenomatous colon polyps and tumors outside of the gastrointestinal organs. These tumors can include epidermoid cysts (lumps in or underneath the skin), fibromas (fibrous tumors), desmoid tumors (fibrous tumors that can develop anywhere throughout the body), and Osteomas (lumps in or on the bone).
Lynch Syndrome 11
Lynch Syndrome is also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (or HNPCC), Lynch Syndrome is one of the most common hereditary cancer syndromes. About 1 in every 300 people carry the alteration of the gene that is associated with it with this syndrome. With this condition, there is a larger chance of developing colon cancer. If there are multiple cases of colon and/or endometrial cancer on either mom or dad’s side, this is a primary clue that Lynch syndrome runs in the family.
Juvenile Polyposis Syndrome 12
JPS is characterized as “juvenile” due to the type of polyp, rather than the age of those who have the syndrome. It’s defined by noncancerous masses of normal tissues that build up in the intestines — if they develop inside of a body structure, like the intestines, they are also called polyps.
Muir-Torre Syndrome 13
When people develop uncommon skin lesions or tumors, like sebaceous adenomas, sebaceous epitheliomas, sebaceous carcinomas, and keratoacanthomas, they might have Muir-Torre Syndrome, which is a variation of Lynch Syndrome.
MYH-Associated Polyposis 14
Also called MAP, this is a hereditary condition where individuals develop multiple adenomatous colon polyps throughout their lifetime. If the polyps aren’t watched, there is an increased risk of colon cancer.
Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome 15
With this syndrome, also called PJS, there’s an increased risk of developing hamartomatous polyps in the digestive tract. There is also a larger risk for cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, pancreas, stomach, testicles, ovaries, lung, cervix, and more — with a lifetime risk for cancer as high as 93%.
Turcot Syndrome 16
A variant of FAP and Lynch Syndrome, Turcot Syndrome, is defined by multiple adenomatous colon polyps, an increased risk of colon cancer, and an increased risk of brain tumors.
Colon Cancer Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, both men and women should begin screening for colon cancer at age 50, which is a common age for colon cancer to begin. The National Colorectal Round Table estimates 17 that if 80% of the eligible population was screened at this age, the number of colorectal cancer deaths could be cut by a whopping 230,000. Screening can remove the polyps painlessly during a colonoscopy, with regular screening allowing for cancer to be detected at an early stage. When it’s detected earlier on, colon cancer is more likely to be cured.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we hear the question often — how common is colon cancer? Now that you know a bit of colon cancer’s background and some statistics, we hope you’ll make an effort to get screened and decrease your risk of colorectal cancer. Being cautious of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, getting regular colonoscopies, and taking preventative actions will all help decrease your risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, to prevent colon cancer, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, get regular exercise, limit red meats and processed foods, and quit smoking.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colon cancer, reach out to us today for colon cancer treatment. As we try to move away from conventional methods like surgery and chemotherapy, we focus on alternative cancer treatments that will restore the health of your body and enable your immune system to fight. Unlike conventional medicine, we understand that it’s equally as important to build up the healthy cells as it is to kill the cancer cells.
Through our attentive, passionate staff, and individualized treatment options, we give each patient the chance to thrive in an uplifting environment. We believe that the key to recovery and successful treatment has everything to do with maintaining hope and a positive attitude.
From all of us at Immunity Therapy Center, thank you for reading. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.