Colon Cancer

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Common Misconceptions About Colon Cancer

Dr. Heather Yeo Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian

There are several myths about colon cancer that we hope to clear up here with the help of Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center and a medical advisor to SurvivorNet:

1. Colon cancer only affects men–FALSE.

Colon cancer affects both men and women. Overall, it is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States.

2. I won’t be able to sit down after colon cancer surgery–FALSE (mostly).

Most operations for colon cancer are done through an abdominal incision, and therefore, you are going to have the most discomfort in that area. There are cancers located in the rectum that can require an operation to be done from below. However, even if this is the case, most patients are able to sit down after recovering for a few days.

3. Having anal sex causes colon cancer–FALSE.

The act of anal intercourse does not cause colon cancer.

4. You don’t need to be screened for colon cancer if you have regular bowel movements and feel fine–FALSE.

Many patients who develop colon cancer are asymptomatic, especially those patients with early stage disease. This is why routine colon cancer screening is recommended for all patients over the age of 50 years old (and sometimes earlier), even in patients who feel well.

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Dr. Heather Yeo is a medical advisor to SurvivorNet. She is board-certified in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery, and complex general surgical oncology. She is an assistant professor of Surgery and Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medical College and assistant attending surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Read More

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