Saturday, December 19, 2009

I have learned about a new kind of cancer

First I learned all about thyroid cancer (6 pages in a book) and then all about breast cancer (60 books plus 6000 web pages) and then I relearned about thyroid cancer (because I felt I knew nothing compared to what I knew about breast cancer) so now I have learned about colon cancer. I think I choose not to have to learn about any more kinds of cancer in my life time.

Anyway, this is what I have learned - but I'm no professional here so don't quote me. About 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, this compares with 200,000 women with breast cancer or 30,000 men and women with thyroid cancer. Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the US but the third most deadly for men - right up there with lung and prostate.

Colon cancer is staged by where it is. If it has progressed out of the polyp, they can't tell the stage until they do the surgery. If its in the polyp only, stage 0 and considered cured through a colonoscopy. If its in the inner layers of the colon, its stage I and considered cured through surgery. If its further into the layers of the colon, it is stage II and it is considered cured through surgery. If it is to the outer layers of the colon and into lymph nodes, it is considered stage III and requires surgery and chemo. If it is into other organs, it is stage IV and they do surgery as much as they can and give you chemo.

The five year survival statistics for colon cancer are actually worse than those of breast cancer or thyroid cancer:
Breast cancer: Stage 0 100%, stage I 100%, stage II 86%, stage III 57%; stage IV 20%
Thyroid cancer: Stage I - 100%, Stage II 100%, Stage III 96%, Stage IV - 45%;
Colon cancer: stage I 93%, stage IIA 85%, Stage IIB 72%, Stage IIIa 83%, Stage IIIB 64%, Stage IIIC 44%, and stage IV 8%.

Any more happy thoughts and I might explode.

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