Prostate and colon cancer are two of the most common types of cancer in the United States. While they share similarities, such as certain risk factors, they also have distinct differences, including where they occur and who they may affect. This influences how doctors diagnose and treat them.
Prostate and colon cancer are two
This article will discuss some similarities and differences between prostate and colon cancer.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
There may be connections between these two cancers. Those who have or have had prostate cancer in the past may be more likely to have colorectal cancer or precancer as well. Research from
Similarly, research from
Furthermore, genetics and family history can play a role in both types of cancer, and in some cases may increase the likelihood of developing both types. For example,
Some similarities between prostate and colon cancer may include:
The two cancer types may share some risk factors. For example, the risk for both colorectal cancer and prostate cancer
Studies suggest that people who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer may have a
Both prostate cancer and colorectal cancers are common conditions and common causes of cancer-related death.
However, it is worth noting that the above statistics relating to prostate cancer only refer to those with a prostate, while the statistics for colorectal cancer refer to the whole population.
Diagnosis and treatment options
Diagnosing either cancer may involve imaging tests to investigate tissues and tissue biopsies to confirm the diagnosis. Additionally, a doctor may perform tests for certain markers, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA), to help with the diagnosis.
Some treatment options for both cancers may also be similar, such as using chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In some cases, both cancer types may require surgery to remove sections of the prostate or colon that contain cancer.
While the two cancers do share common elements, there are distinct differences between them, including:
Where they occur
The two types of cancer occur in different areas of the body. Colon cancer is a cancer of the bowels, occurring in the large intestine, whereas prostate cancer occurs in the prostate, part of the genitourinary system.
Who they affect
Colon cancer may occur in anyone, but prostate cancer typically only occurs in those born with a prostate. People without a prostate may have structures with a similar function, called Skene’s glands, that some may refer to as the female prostate. In this way, female prostate cancer is possible but exceedingly rare.
The age range of those affected may vary as well. Colon cancer risk may occur at slightly younger ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a person consider screening for colorectal cancer from
While some cancer symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss may overlap, defining symptoms between the two cancers differ. For example, colorectal cancer may cause symptoms affecting the bowels,
- a change in bowel habits
- blood in or on the stool
- a feeling of not finishing bowel movements
- abdominal pain, aches, and cramps
Prostate cancer may cause symptoms affecting urination and ejaculation,
- difficulty urinating or starting a urine stream
- weak urine stream
- difficulty emptying the bladder
- pain or burning while urinating
- very frequent urination, especially at night
- blood in urine or semen
- painful ejaculation
- pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
The 5-year survival rate may also vary. For example, the National Cancer Institute estimates the 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about
There are several screening tools doctors may recommend depending on the type of cancer. The screening options for each case will vary based on a doctor’s recommendations and personal preference.
For colon cancer,
It is advisable for people to attend regular cancer screenings following their doctor’s guidance, particularly those at higher risk. Early detection can improve cancer treatment outcomes.
Additionally, making changes to the manageable risk factors for cancer may help reduce cancer risk in some people. These typically involve changes to the diet and lifestyle, such as:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a healthy diet
- regular physical activity
- limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption
- avoiding or quitting smoking
With this said, there is no guarantee that making changes to the diet or lifestyle will eliminate the risk of cancer.
Prostate cancer and colon cancer are two separate and common types of cancer. While they share some similarities, such as certain risk factors, they have many differences, such as some symptoms.
Screening can help to identify both types of cancer early and allow people to receive prompt treatment. Some lifestyle changes may also help to reduce the risk for both types of cancer.