Tumor Placement May Matter with Colon Cancer

Nearly 100,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer in the coming year. About 50,000 people will die from all forms of colorectal cancer combined. For those diagnosed with colon cancer, however, the location of the tumor may very well play a role in their likelihood of survival, new research suggests.

A recent study that looked at the results of some 60 studies covering more than 1.4 million patients found that left sided tumors tend to present with lower mortality rates. This study builds upon others that have found that left- and right-sided colon cancers seem to have different biological and clinical features. Right sided tumors are associated with iron-deficiency anemia. Left-sided tumors are more readily associated with hematochezia and changes in bowel habits. People with tumors on the left side, the research found, have an 18 percent lower risk of death than those with right sided tumors.

Colon cancer, like many other forms of the disease, is often highly treatable when it is caught in its earliest phases. That is precisely why it is recommended people begin undergoing routine screening exams as they age. The exact age exams should begin will hinge on such factors as family history for the disease and a person’s other risk factors. Those with a high risk may find healthcare providers recommending routine screens starting in their younger years. Most others will find routine exams suggested starting around the age of 50 or so.

Since both men and women are at risk for colorectal cancers, it is important for everyone to talk to their doctors about this condition. Understanding personal risks and taking steps to prevent the disease can be very important. Should colon cancer be detected, the location of the tumor may play a role in determining outcome likelihood. Early detection, however, can give those with tumors on either side a much strong chance of beating this disease.

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