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Women and Colon Cancer

Colon cancer affects men and women as often, but there is still a misperception that this is a "man's disease".  Yet, colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths in women; it will claim the lives of nearly 25,000 American women this year.

Colon cancer is so common that all adults over age 50 are considered at risk.   As with all cancers, it progress in stages and is best treated the sooner the better:  when treated in stage I, colon cancer has a 95% chance of 5-year survival; in stage IV, that goes down to a 3% chance.

Age is the most important risk factor.  In women, for every 5 year age increase, colon cancer risk doubles!  Other risk factors include menopause, family history of colon cancer or polyps, sedentary lifestyle, and a high fat or low fiber diet.

The good news about colon cancer is that with proper screening it is treatable and curable.  Recent research also reveals promising new therapies as well as new information about other interventions.  For example, one study showed that drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day could reduce colon cancer risk by 40%; other studies suggest that estrogen replacement therapy may decrease the risk of colon cancer in menopausal women.

Created: 12/17/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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