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Colon cancer survival rates indicate the chances a cancer patient has of surviving the disease for a specified length of time. The rates are by no means a definite indicator of what will happen to a patient; they can at best predict a patient's chances of what might happen to him, if a type of treatment plan is opted for, based on what has happened to other patients in similar circumstances. They serve as a guide to a patient and his family to know what they can expect if they choose a particular type of treatment or if they should consider one at all rather than just opt for pain relievers and sedation.Colon cancer is a disease of the lower part of the digestive system affecting the colon, rectum and appendix. It is also called colorectal or large bowel cancer. It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths in the Western World.Colon cancer when detected in the early stages is one of the most curable of cancers, by as much as 90%. Happily, the colon cancer survival rates have been steadily improving over the past 20 years, because of improved screening that makes treatment possible at the early curable stages. There are over 1 million survivors of the disease in the US today.As with most cancers, prognosis is determined by the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the later the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the lower the survival rate. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute gives these overall survival rates for colon cancer in the US: 93% at stage 1, 85% at stage 2A, 72% at stage 2B, 83% at stage 3A, 64% at stage 3B, 44% at stage 3C and 8% at stage 4.Colon cancer survival rates also vary depending on where the tumor is located. If the cancerous growth is located in the ascending colon, the 5 year survival rate is 63%, for the transverse colon it is 59% and for the descending colon it is 66%.Treatment is mainly surgical in which the cancerous section of the bowel is removed and the two open ends are joined. If they can't be joined, a colostomy bag is necessary, in which case the bowel is brought outside the abdominal wall for the bag. Surgery is followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy which improves the survival rate by a further 5-6%.Overall colon cancer affects men and women of all races equally however, women are more prone to developing colon cancer and men rectal cancer. Being over the age of 50 presents an increased risk factor with the risk for developing the disease increasing with each passing decade. Over 75% of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50 however; younger people too are at risk and cannot afford to ignore screening. Smoking, consumption of alcohol, being overweight and living sedentary lifestyles is risk factors as are having a family history of the disease and diabetes.Since it has been proved that colon cancer survival rates have increased due to increased and improved screening techniques, it is highly recommended that the survival rates be further improved with people over the age of 40 having regular colonoscopies and rectal exams to increase the chances of early detection and treatment.
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