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De-mystifying Cancer by Stuart Wolfe

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cells then help the body fight the cancer cells, thus improving the

patient’s survival rate.

Thus, advances in immune system research hold a ray of hope for

several cancer patients.

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6. Who Gets Cancer?

Cancer is a major cause of death among American men and

women and about half a million people succumb to it annually.

Cancer afflicts men and women above the age of fifty-five years.

There are different types of cancer that occur in men and women.

Most women have breast cancer, cancer in the large intestine,

ovarian cancer and lung cancer. Men on the other hand suffer from

lung cancer and prostate cancer mostly, followed by cancer of the

large intestine and bladder.

The risk of cancer increases with age and rarely occurs in children.

Children between the ages of three and fourteen who develop

cancer rarely survive. About a million people suffer from cancer in

America and its incidence depends on the gender and race of the

person. Some groups like women are more prone to breast cancer.

African-Americans have a greater chance of developing cancer than

whites.

Hence, they must be aware of steps for early detection and

treatment. The key to beating cancer lies in recognizing one’s risk

profile. It is advisable to refrain from smoking, having a healthy diet

and avoiding exposure to the sun to minimize the chances of

developing cancer. However, it is possible to treat cancer if detected

early. Patients enjoy a better quality of life with the latest anti-

cancer drugs and advanced anti-cancer treatments.

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7. Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Symptoms indicate any disease, injury, or illness in the body.

There is something wrong going within the body that causes

physical and mental disturbance in the body for example cough,

aches, weakness and chills are common symptoms of pneumonia.

Signs also indicate that something is wrong in the body. Signs are

observations made by doctors or health care experts to draw any

conclusion of any of the diseases in a human body, for example

fever, an increase in breathing rate, etc., and abnormal breathing

could be signs of pneumonia

At times, these signs and symptoms are just not enough to provide

clues to determine any kind of illness. For verification of the

particular illness, the doctors recommend medical tests, X-rays,

blood tests, or biopsy.

Signs and Symptoms in Cancer depend upon various things:

- Where the cancer is?

- What is the size of the cancer?

- How much it affects the other organs, blood vessels and the

nerves of the body.

- Sometimes, cancer exists in places where there are no symptoms

found. Cancer cells have grown in large amounts. Cancer in the

pancreas is not visible from the outside the body; they begin to

grow nearby, within the nerves, causing backache. It also grows

around bile duct, blocking the flow of bile thus leading to jaundice.

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By the time this pancreatic cancer shows these signs and symptoms

it has reached the advanced stage.

General Signs and Symptoms of Cancer:

Unintentional weight loss: A person suffering with cancer will

lose a lot of weight at the first stage of cancer. This weight loss is

more prominent in cancers of the stomach, pancreas, and lungs.

Fever: Cancer patients are often prone to fever. The cancer

indirectly affects the immune system and reduces the resistance of

the body to fight against any diseases.

Fatigue: Fatigue or tiredness is noticeable in cancer patients as it

spreads, especially in the case of leukemia and in stomach cancers,

which causes acute loss of blood.

Pain: Unbearable pain in the body is the symptom of bone and

testicular cancer.

Skin Changes: Some internal cancers can produce skin changes

like -

- Darkening of skin (hyper pigmentation)

- Yellowing of skin (jaundice)

- Reddening of skin (erythema)

Some Specific Cancer Signs and Symptoms:

Change in the bowel habits or functioning of the bladder

1. Acute constipation or diarrhea and change in the size of stool

indicate colon cancer.

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2. Pain while urinating, blood in the urine, frequent or less frequent

urination patterns is due to malfunctioning of the bladder. These

symptoms indicate bladder or prostate cancer.

Sores that do not heal

Skin cancers lead to bleeding thus resembling sores that do not

heal. A chain-smoker, a person who drinks alcohol and chews

tobacco have the problem of continual sores that do not heal,

leading to oral cancer. Sores on the penis and vagina can also be

signs of cancer.

Unusual bleeding or discharge

1. Blood in the sputum may be a sign of lung cancer.

2. Blood in the stool or dark stool could be a sign of rectal or colon

cancer.

3. Vaginal bleeding may be a symptom of cancer in the lining of the

uterus.

4. Blood in the urine may be a symptom of kidney or bladder

cancer.

5. Blood discharge from a nipple may lead to breast cancer.

Lumps in the breast or other parts of the body.

A lump is an early or late sign of cancer. Any lump if grown into a

big size with time needs medical aid. Lumps are present in the

breast, testicles, glands, and soft tissues of the body.

Problem of indigestion

Cancer patients are always complaining about indigestion and

swallowing of food. These are the symptoms of stomach,

esophagus, and throat cancer.

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Change in the Mole

If there are any changes in the color, shape or size of the mole

consulting the doctor is very important.

Constant Coughing

A long continuous and prolonged cough that extends for a month is

not good for the health and may be a sign of lung cancer.

The effects of many cancers may be reduced if they are detected

and treated at an early stage. Early medical review often proves

effective. If anyone notices any of these signs and symptoms, they

must not delay but seek immediate medical aid to check whether

the cause is some kind of cancer or not.

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8. What Are the Risk Factors for Cancer?

Several factors increase a person’s chances of getting cancer.

These may relate to the environment or the person’s lifestyle.

Sometimes a person who encounters many risk factors may not

develop some form of cancer, while others with less apparent risk

may. The risk factors are simply things we should minimize as far as

possible our exposure to.

Factors that could affect the incidence of cancer could include the

age, gender, diet and lifestyle, or race of the person.

Some African-American men are more prone to cancer than

Caucasian men are.

A family history of cancer may increase your chance of getting

certain types of cancer. Women with a sister or mother with breast

cancer seem to have a greater chance of getting it. The occurrence

of breast cancer may be affected by the varying hormone levels

throughout life, onset of menstruation and menopause and the

number of pregnancies among other factors.

Environmental factors, like long-term, unprotected exposure to

direct sunlight can cause skin cancer.

Exposure to specific chemicals or gas fumes that are known to be

carcinogenic in the workplace is a major environmental risk factor.

Excessive alcohol consumption seems to lead to higher rates of the

development of certain types of cancer.

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Most researchers accept that there is a direct link between smoking

and the incidence of lung cancer. Tobacco and snuff consumption

cause oral cancer, bladder, cervical and kidney cancer.

A sedentary lifestyle, coupled with a fat-rich diet, can increase the

risk of cancer in later life.

Some viral infections can increase the incidence of cancer occurring.

Awareness of risk factors goes a long way in mitigating the risk of

getting cancer.

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Part-III: The Top Three Cancer Killers in Men

9. Lung Cancer in Men

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer afflicting

men all over the world. Lung cancer rose to be a major cause for

death after the 1930’s. It’s now believed this was linked to the

increasing consumption of tobacco products. Tobacco remains a

significant factor in the occurrence of lung cancer.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is due to excessive growth of cells in the patient’s lungs

Can Lung Cancer Spread?

Yes, lung cancer can spread to other areas of the patient’s body

such as the brain, liver, adrenal glands and bones. The cancerous

cells spread from the lungs through lymphatic tissue or blood. This

spreading process is commonly referred to as metastasis.

How Lung Cancer Starts

Normally, each incidence of cancer is named according to where in

the body it originated. Lung cancer can start in any part of the lung

and may spread to the prostate or colon, but most doctors will refer

to it still as lung cancer.

Humans have two lungs. The left lung has two lobes and lingual (a

small structure, similar to a middle lobe). The right lung has three

lobes.

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The major functions of your lungs is the intake and processing of

oxygen to circulate through your blood and exhalation of carbon

dioxide from your body.

Pleura form a protective covering for your lungs and chest wall.

Trachea brings in air and enters your lung through bronchi.

Bronchi are small tubes that branch into minute airways, popularly

known as bronchioles. Each bronchiole ends in a tiny sac which are

called alveoli. The exchange of gases takes place in the alveoli.

Lung cancer can start from any of these parts and afflict both lungs.

However, more than ninety percent of lung cancers start from the

inner lining of the bronchi and bronchioles. These are bronchogenic

carcinomas. Sometimes, lung cancer starts from the outer covering

of pleura. In very rare cases, lung cancer starts from blood vessels

and other supporting tissues within your lungs.

Causes of Lung Cancer in Men

Smoking

Smoking is accepted by many researchers as a dominant cause of

lung cancer, due to inhalation of tobacco through smoking or

ingestion from chewing tobacco and other products. Pipe and cigar

smoking also cause lung cancer. They may be less significant but

some research indicates that pipe and cigar smokers are five times

more prone to lung cancer than nonsmokers are.

Cigarette smokers could be as much as twenty-five times more

prone to lung cancer than nonsmokers are.

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There are more than four thousand carcinogenic chemical

compounds in tobacco smoke. The two primary carcinogens are

polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines.

You may reduce chances of lung cancer by quitting smoking but it

could take over fifteen years for former smokers to grow new and

normal cells to replace those damaged in their lungs due to smoking

and there is no guarantee that full normal function will be achieved.

Passive Smoking

Passive smoking refers to inhalation of the chemicals released from

other people’s cigarettes and other tobacco products by non-

smokers who share living or working areas with smokers.

Passive smoking increases non-smokers’ risks of contracting cancer.

About ten percent of those affected by lung cancer are nonsmokers.

Radon gas

This is believed to cause around twelve percent of lung cancers. This

is a chemically inert gas produced by the natural decay of uranium.

This gas can travel through gaps in foundation, drains, and pipes or

through soil. Although this is an odorless and invisible gas, kits are

available to help people detect it.

Asbestos fibers

Asbestos was widely used for years in thermal and acoustic

insulation materials of homes and workplaces.

Lung cancer and mesothelioma may result due to asbestos exposure

years earlier. Mesothelioma is cancer of pleura or the peritoneum

(the lining of the abdominal cavity). Smokers who work in areas

that are contaminated with asbestos have a much higher chance of

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developing lung cancer than nonsmokers in the same type of

environments.

Most countries now ban the use of asbestos.

Lung Diseases

Sufferers of lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary

disease also have an increased chance of lung cancer. People that

have previously had a bout of lung cancer, must be aware that it

can recur.

Air pollution

Around one percent of lung cancer incidents are due to air pollution

which can be from industries, power plants, vehicles or other

sources.

Prolonged exposure to such air pollutants poses a similar risk of

lung cancer as that faced by passive smokers.

Family History

Genetic factors also play a role in the incidence of lung cancer in

men. Non-smoking relatives of smokers may have a higher risk of

suffering from lung cancer than the general population.

A specific human chromosome of number 6 contains a gene that is

believed to increase a person’s susceptibility to lung cancer.

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Types of Lung Cancer in Men

Bronchogenic carcinomas, or lung cancer, has two main types.

These are Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) and Non-Small Cell

Lung Cancers (NSCLC).

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Some researchers refer to small cell lung cancer as oat cell

carcinomas.

This cancer mainly occurs in smokers, but up to one percent of non-

smokers may contract this cancer.

It constitutes around twenty percent of all lung cancers but the

percentage is growing rapidly.

Detection of this type of cancer is normally possible only after it has

spread widely.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

This cancer currently accounts for more than eighty percent of all

lung cancers.

These are the main types:

Adenocarcinomas

More than fifty percent of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers (NSCLS)

cancers are of this type. It is prevalent in smokers and nonsmokers.

This cancer normally occurs in the outer areas of the lungs.

Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma is one of the most common types

of Adenocarcinoma. It develops at various places in the lungs and

across alveolar walls.

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Squamous Cell Carcinomas

This type of lung cancer presently accounts for thirty percent of lung

cancer cases. This starts in the central chest region of bronchi. It is

also known as epidermoid carcinoma.

Large cell carcinomas

This is the least common type of NSCLC. Many refer to this as

undifferentiated carcinoma.

Less Common Lung Cancers

These lung cancers constitute only five to ten percent of the known

types of lung cancers.

Bronchial Carcinoids

This lung cancer is common in people below forty years old. The

tumors are small, about one to one and a half inches in diameter.

They can metastasize and some secrete hormonal substances.

This type usually spreads very slowly and it is sometimes possible to

remove it surgically if detected in the initial stages.

Metastatic tumors: These tumors spread into the lungs from any

part of your body and develop cancerous tendencies. These

normally concentrate in the central part of your lungs but,

sometimes, remain scattered throughout your lung.

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Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Men

Lung cancer often does not show any symptoms until a routine CT

scan or chest X-ray reveals a small mass of cancerous cells.

Other symptoms of lung cancer may include:

It is important to realize that not all occurrences of these

conditions indicate the presence of any kind of cancer. There

may be many other reasons for these symptoms.

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Cough

Wheezing

Coughing up blood

Paralysis of vocal cords making your voice hoarse

Pain in the shoulders

Difficulty in swallowing due to blocking of esophagus

Infections like abscesses and pneumonia

Lung cancer that spreads into the brain may cause different

symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, strokes, seizures, and loss

of sensation in parts of the body.

Lung cancer spreading into bones could cause severe pain in bones

and joints.

Other symptoms of lung cancer may include weakness, excessive

weight loss, fatigue, mood changes and depression.

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Diagnosis of Lung Cancer in Men

The first diagnosis in lung cancer is often through a chest x-ray.

Doctors take x-rays which could detect the presence of any

abnormality in the lungs from all sides.

But, standard chest x-rays may not pinpoint the existence of

cancerous cells in your lungs.

Where results are inconclusive, doctors advise a CT scan of the

chest, brain and abdomen to detect the presence of any tumor.

These machines are more sensitive than x-ray machines and

radiation exposure is less. They can detect the presence of lung

nodules and metastatic cancer in adrenal glands, brain, or liver.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans help to indicate the

exact location of any tumor. MRI scans use radio waves, magnetism

and computer enhancement to produce body images. MRI scans do

not cause any radiation or other side effects.

If you have a heart pacemaker, artificial heart valves, or any metal

implants, it is better not to opt for MRI scans as magnets could

move metal parts within your body.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans can detect metabolic

activity and functioning of tissue within the lungs. Doctors inject a

little radioactive material within the bone during a bone scan to

detect abnormalities within the bones due to cancer.

Sputum cytology is another simple diagnostic procedure to detect

the presence of a tumor. However, it is not conclusive as tumor cells

are not always present in your sputum making a precise cancer

diagnosis difficult.

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Prostate Cancer in Men

The Prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer affecting

men, after lung cancer. Incidences of prostate cancer is high in

Europe and The United States, but it is less common in Asia.

It normally affects men over the age of fifty.

Start of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is commonly referred to as a glandular cancer. Cells

in the prostate gland normally produce semen. With prostate

cancer, some of these cells start multiplying and growing without

any set pattern. They initially form clumps of cells in the prostate

gland. This situation is referred to as ‘carcinoma in situ’.

Although there is no clear evidence that this leads to prostate

cancer, it has a close association to cancer causing agents in the

prostate gland.

These cells slowly start growing and spreading to surrounding

tissue. This affects nearby organs like the rectum or seminal

vesicles.

It later spreads to other body parts like the lymph nodes, bladder

and bones.

Causes of Prostate Cancer in Men

There is no proven, single cause for prostate cancer in men. Many

factors, like age, lifestyle, genetics, diet, race and medical history

are believed to play important roles.

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Age is a significant factor in the development of prostate cancer.

Particular genes also seem to play an important role. There are

many cases of twins both developing prostate cancer. Identical

twins carry the same genes.

Hereditary factors also seem to have a bearing. Men whose father

and/or grandfather suffered from prostate cancer, could have a

greater chance of having prostate cancer.

Dietary research may indicate that a high-level of trans-fatty acids

in your body could be a possible factor for prostate cancer.

Low levels of vitamin D and vitamin E, low levels of omega-3 fatty

acids and the mineral selenium could increase the possible

occurrences of prostate cancer.

Obesity and high blood levels of testosterone may also encourage

the development of prostate cancer.

Lowering your intake of animal fat and increasing your intake of

leafy green vegetables and fruits may reduce prostate cancer risks.

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Symptoms and Detection

of Prostate Cancer in Men

Prostate cancer in early stages often does not display any obvious

symptoms. They develop slowly. Many men may not notice any

specific symptoms although they have developing prostate cancer.

Some symptoms that should be referred to your medical

professional for checking about the possibility of the presence of

prostate cancer include:

? Difficulty in urinating

? Pain in the abdomen and prostate gland

? Erectile dysfunction (unable to have or maintain an erection).

? Excessive urination at night

? Blood in urine

? Very frequent urination

? Difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine.

In the advanced stages, this cancer spreads beyond the prostate to

other body parts. Additional symptoms develop. These may include:

Pain in the bones (mainly the spine, ribs, and pelvis)

Weakness in the legs

Urinary and fecal incontinence.

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Detection and Diagnosis

of Prostate Cancer in Men

Prostate cancer screening can help in locating cancer of the prostate

gland. The screening may require follow-up tests such as a biopsy

to clarify the results.

In the biopsy, doctors remove a small piece of the prostate for

detailed investigation.

Other detection procedures include:

• Digital rectal examination

• Measuring the blood level of prostate-specific antigen

• Cystoscopy

• Trans rectal ultrasonography.

A biopsy is almost always needed to confirm the presence of

prostate cancer. A biopsy involves removal of small pieces of

prostate through a biopsy gun. Close microscopic examination of

these samples can confirm presence of cancerous cells and help in

the analysis of what stage the prostate cancer is at.

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Treatment of Prostate Cancer in Men

Prostate cancer treatment currently centers on options like:

Radiation therapy

Surgery

Watchful waiting

Chemotherapy

Hormonal therapy

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

Cryosurgery

……….. or a combination of treatments.

Your doctor and medical specialist will advise treatments according

to the patient’s medical condition and the state of the prostate

cancer.

Most of the treatments may sometimes cause side effects like

urinary and fecal incontinence, erectile dysfunction and others.

So, doctors consider lifestyle, general health and age, before

administering treatment for prostate cancer. Hormonal therapy and

chemotherapy are often used for advanced cases but also in some

other circumstances, especially if prostate cancer has spread to

other body parts.

Most advanced tumors require radiation therapy.

A combination of cryotherapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy

may help if an initial treatment does not yield positive results and

cancer starts spreading.

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Prevention of Prostate Cancer in Men

Some people believe that you can sometimes reduce the incidence

of prostate cancer by simple medications and dietary regulations.

But, you must never use these methods or change your current

medication or lifestyle without first consulting and accepting the

advice of your doctor or qualified medical specialist.

That’s because there is a huge amount

of research under way and theories and

even “facts” are being revised as a

result of new information.

Your doctor must always be consulted

for the latest available information and

advice about any questions you have on

cancer or other medical matters.

Some people believe that ensuring their

diet includes daily intake of vitamin E

and selenium can prove beneficial.

Phytoestrogens, as present in soybeans and other plant sources,

may help to reduce the occurrence of prostate cancer.

Intake of green tea is sometimes recommended but there is no

conclusive evidence to support it.

Some people say that frequent masturbation may help to reduce the

development of prostate cancer.

The medications, dutasteride and finasteride, are recommended by

some people but the benefits are not confirmed. They are still in the

early testing stages and you should not do any self-testing.

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In the early stages of prostate cancer, doctors may prefer to wait

and watch without starting any serious treatments.

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Colorectal Cancer in Men

Colorectal cancer is the same as bowel cancer. This cancer of the

large intestine is the third most common form of cancer in men.

More than 70,000 men die of colorectal cancer every year in the

United States.

It is due to cancerous growth in the colon, appendix and rectum.

Normally, it starts as a benign growth in the colon, some of which

turns cancerous later.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer in Men

Colorectal cancer does not always exhibit any early signs or

symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

• Change in bowel habits, like constipation, diarrhea or it could

be a feeling of retained stools.

• There could be a change in quality of stools such as narrower

stools and stools with mucus.

• Stools with blood in them

• Regular rectal bleeding

• Reduction in fecal caliber

• Extreme weakness and tiredness

• Excessive weight loss for no apparent reason

• Feeling anemic with palpitations, dizziness and low levels of

hemoglobin

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• Vomiting and abdominal cramps with extreme discomfort due

to abdominal gas, bloating or fullness.

Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer in Men

Certain factors pose high risks for development of colorectal cancer

in men.

These include:

Age: Colorectal cancer often affects men in their sixties and

seventies. In very few cases, it affects men in their fifties. However,

such men normally have a family history of colon cancer.

History of colon cancer: Men diagnosed with colon cancer once

have a risk of developing it again.

Hereditary factors also affect the level of risk for men over the

age of fifty-five. If any of your close relatives have colon cancer,

you might have a slightly higher than average risk that you could

develop it after the age of forty too.

Polyps of the colon: If you have adenomatous polyps, you have a

higher than average risk of developing colon cancer. Having an

ulcerated colon can increase the chance of suffering colon cancer.

Diet: A diet rich in red meat but low in fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, high-fiber foods and poultry may increase the risks of colon cancer.

Smoking: Men who smoke have a thirty percent higher chance of

contracting colon cancer than non-smokers.

Lack of regular physical activity: Absence of regular physical

activity can increase the risk of colon cancer in men.

Consumption of alcohol: Regular, excessive alcohol consumption

may increase the risk of colon cancer. This risk may be higher if you

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consume beer and spirits. Some people believe that wine drinkers

have a lower risk but that may be the influence of other individual

factors.

Diagnosis and Detection

Early detection of colorectal cancer can help. However, it is not

possible to detect colon cancer in the early stages. Colorectal cancer

develops over a long period.

These tests can help doctors detect its presence:

Fecal occult blood test: Doctors conduct this test to detect blood

in stool.

Digital rectal exam: Doctors insert a gloved and lubricated finger

into the patient’s rectum to feel for abnormal growth. This is not a

screening test and it is possible to feel abnormal growth only if

tumors are large and distinct enough.

Endoscopy: This is, at the time of writing, the most preferred form

of colon cancer testing. It could be a sigmoidoscopy or a

colonoscopy.

Sigmoidoscopy consists of inserting a lighted probe, a

sigmoidoscope, into the rectum and lower colon to check for any

abnormalities or polyps.

Colonoscopy refers to inserting a colonoscope into the rectum and

the whole colon to check for any abnormalities. It can immediately

remove any polyps or abnormalities. It is also possible to take tissue

for biopsy.

PET imaging of the whole body: This is a very cost-effective

method of testing for colon cancer. This test can provide an