Is Colon Cancer Curable and Treatable?
The outlook (prognosis) of colon cancer means the chances of getting better from the disease. One of the most challenging questions, is it treatable or even curable? Actually, each case of this disease is unique. If you have it, there is no statistic can tell exactly what will happen to you! But in general, the likely outcome of the disease is dependent on how advanced the disease is when it is first diagnosed!
Like other cancers, bowel cancers (including colon cancer) are relative easier to treat when it is diagnosed at early stage. The earlier stage of the disease means the better prognosis and outlook patient has.
So, it is very essential to diagnose the existence of this disease as early as possible. Since it is closely associated with age, older adults are usually suggested to start taking the screening test at the age of 50 (in fact, most patients over 50). See also effective ways to prevent colon cancer!
However, if you have some or many risk factors of the disease (conditions /factors that can raise your risk of developing bowel cancers), you may be asked by your doctor to take the screening earlier than others. See more these risk factors and how fast colon cancer grows in here!
If the stage is so crucial for the outcome of the disease, does it mean that the colon cancer is curable if caught early? The answer may vary, but ‘yap’ there is greater chance to cure it, especially when the disease is treated at its pre-cancerous growth stage!
What is per-cancerous growth in colon? Many times, the cancer in the bowel (including colon and rectum) starts from clumps of benign (non-cancerous growth) cells called polyps. Over time, these polyps may turn into cancer. The entire process of this transforming can take several years.
Unfortunately, there is still no clearly answer of why and how these polyps become cancerous cells. Furthermore, not all people with these polyps will have bowel cancers. Even many of these polyps don’t turn into cancer!
However, experts believe that removing polyps before they eventually turn into cancer can be an effective way to prevent cancer in the bowel. This particularly is true for polyps that have high risk to become cancer.
The amount and size of the polyps can affect how often you need to have a bowel examination. The appearance of they looks can have an effect, too. In general, the larger of them and the more abnormal they look, the greater the risk of becoming cancer!
- For people with 1-2 polyps in their bowel, and the size not bigger than 1 cm across – their risk to have bowel cancer is slightly higher, but this risk is still categorized into ‘very low risk category’.
- If there are 3-4 polyps, and at least one of them is greater than 1 cm across, the risk of having bowel cancer can be moderate-high (intermediate category).
- And if the number of polyps are more than 5, and 3 or more of them are bigger than 1 cm across, the risk is a much higher than others.
How about the chance to cure polyps that have become cancerous cells in the bowel? There is always a hope, even though for colon cancer at advanced stage.
Again each case can be unique. However theoretically and statistically, the chance to cure the disease is greater if the cancer is caught and treated early since there will be greater chance that the treatment works more effectively.
On the other hand, the more advanced the cancer, the less chance to cure the disease. Because at these stages, the cancer has grown bigger and even may have spread to other organs of the body. See also the stages of colon cancer and how it starts out in this section!
Before you continue reading, it’s better to understand the following crucial terms (especially if you are not familiar with medical statistics):
- The common ranges of survival rates include 5-year and 10-year survival.
- The number 5 and 10 years don’t point to the exact years you will survive after the diagnosis. This doesn’t mean that patients will only live and survive for 5 or 10 years. They may live longer; at least they should live 5 years or 10 years.
- For instance, 5 year survival means that the statistic relates to the number of patients (in a research) who were still alive 5 years after the diagnosis. So these patients may live more than 5 years.
Interestingly – when it comes to the prognosis and outlook of cancer, there are more studies focused on patients who still live 10-years or longer after treatment in cancer. Experts believe that the cancer has small risk to recur after 10 years after treatment, but they don’t say that it has been cured. Therefore, they tend to use term 10-year survival.
The following are the statistics for survival rates of patients with bowel cancer (including colon or/and rectal cancer):