Dr. Eduardo Ruan

Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, explains one of the ways colon cancer can spread is once the tumor penetrates through the wall of the colon, it can invade the surrounding tissue.

He also says the cancer cells can travel and colonize lymph nodes, and also it can migrate through the blood vessels and go primarily to the liver. Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, explains in a colon cancer surgery, surgeons do an extended resection to get good margins on both sides of healthy tissue.

He also says for early stages of cancer, in many cases the surgeries can be done laparoscopically through minimal incisions, which give patients faster recovery times. Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, says colon cancer in early stages is asymptomatic, you will feel nothing, and when you have polyps, they don’t give any symptoms either.

He explains when symptoms present, it is usually when colon cancer is advanced, and the main symptoms are rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, changes of the bowel pattern, weight loss, iron deficiency, and anemia. Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, explains colon cancer is a malignant tumor growth that begins in the inner lining of the large intestine, which extends anywhere from the rectum to the end of the colon and the right side of your body.

He also says it can spread through your lymph nodes and to other distant organs like the liver and lungs. He points out it is the second cancer in frequency in women and the third in men. Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, says the American Cancer Society recommends starting colon screenings at age 45 if you are at increased risk, but other societies say the recommended age is 50.

He also explains there is an increase in cases they are detecting in patients at an early age. “We don’t know the explanation for this but we are seeing an increase in frequency of cases. This has prompted the American Cancer Society to change recommendations.” Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, says colon cancer is preventable because it always begins with a benign condition called polyps, which are little growths in the lining of the colon, from the rectum to the cecum, and they take a long time to develop and grow.

He also explains a polyp can take 10 years to grow into cancer. “That gives us a window of time where we can detect polyps, remove them and prevent them.” Being older than 50 years old, use of alcohol and tobacco, lack of physical exercise, low-fiber diet, personal history of inflammatory intestinal conditions, and family history of colon cancer are some of the risk factors.

Dr. Eduardo Ruan, Gastroenterologist with Baptist Health South Florida, says age is the main risk factor. “90% of cases of colon cancer present after the age of 50.” He points out other risk factor is cigarette smoking.

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