With significant advances in medical science, the number of deaths caused due to colon cancer has been declining over the past several decades. In the past year, the number of colon cancer related deaths in the US was down to approximately 50,260. It is estimated there are 1 million plus survivors of this disease in the United States alone!
There are many reasons for this good news:
Prevention and Early Detection: Regular colonoscopies after the age of 45 can not only detect colon cancer in its early stages when it is easily treatable, but can prevent development of cancer in the first place by identifying and removing colon polyps and other precancerous lesions from the colon. Research is also being done on possible diets, supplements, and medications that may lower the risk of colon cancer.
Surgery: Newer surgical techniques such as laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery help in precise location and removal of cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: More effective and safer chemotherapy drugs have been developed which destroy cancer cells while causing minimum damage to healthy tissue.
Targeted Therapy: Several targeted therapy drugs are being used to treat advanced colon cancers. They act on the specific areas of cancer cells that differentiate them from normal cells.
Immunotherapy: Research is being done into the possibility of using the body’s own immune system to fight colon cancer. This field also includes the development of cancer vaccines which are still in the clinical trial stage.
With scientists constantly looking for possible causes and better ways to detect, treat, and prevent colon cancer, the survival rate for colon cancer has increased substantially at all stage of disease. However, early detection still gives you the best odds of survival with a 90% chance of 5-year survival after localized detection of cancer, 70% after regional spread of cancer, and 10% survival after distant metastasis. With appropriate diet and lifestyle changes, timely screening, and early intervention; we can expect a further reduction in the mortality and morbidity related to colon cancer.