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Ronald Reagan was born on February 6th, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. He studied economics and sociology at the local Eureka College, and later went on to work at a radio station and act in 53 films in Hollywood over two decades in the industry. Reagan married twice and had four children. In 1966, he was elected governor of California, and in 1980 was elected President with George Bush as his running mate. Reagan served two terms as President, and enacted various economic reforms. He endured many hardships while in office: early in 1980 he was shot in an attempted assassination, and he was treated for colon, skin, and prostate cancer. In 1994, Reagan made the announcement that he had Alzheimer’s disease, and this caused his death in June 2004.

The colon is the longest part of the long intestine, and colon cancer is any cancer occurring in the tissues of the colon. Chances of getting colon cancer increase markedly after age 50: More than 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Having a family history of colon cancer is a risk factor, as is having a personal history of polyps—growth’s on the colon’s inner wall. While most are benign, some are cancerous or the precursor to cancer. A person is at an even greater risk of developing colon cancer if they have had colon cancer before and it has been removed. Having a history of inflammatory bowel disease also increases the risk of colon cancer. Altered genes can be a factor--- changes in the HNPCC gene cause about 2% of all colon cancers, and almost all people with this mutation develop colon cancer. Poor diet and smoking up the risk of getting colon cancer. Common symptoms include blood in the stool, feeling fatigued, nausea or vomiting, pain in the stomach, diarrhea, jaundice, anemia, constipation and losing weight for no known reason. These symptoms are often ignored or misinterpreted.


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Soon after Reagan’s birth he was nicknamed “Dutchman” due to his overweight appearance. This nickname stuck with him for a while. Weight might have not been a real risk factor for Reagan because he lost his baby fat over the years. By the time Reagan developed cancer he was 74, so age was one of the risk factors that contributed to his cancer diagnosis. He immediately had surgery, the surgeons removed 2 feet of his colon. They discovered that the cancer was stage III and had invaded the muscle wall, but had not spread to other parts of his body so the procedure was successful. The doctors only had to preform major srgury once to remove Reagan's cancer. Over the next few years, they had to keep an eye out for small begnin tumors that appeared in his colon. It seems that age was the key risk for Reagan’s colon cancer because he had no previous family history of the disease.

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Stages of Colon Cancer

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There are five stages of Colon cancer. Stage 0 is when a mass of abnormal cells are found in the mucosa lining of the colon. Stage 1 is when the cancer has spread from the mucosa of the colon wall to the submucosa . There are three different scenarios for Stage ll colon cancer. In stage IIA, the cancer spreads through the muscle layer of the colon wall to the serosa. In stage IIB, cancer spreads through the serosa but has not spread to nearby organs. In stage IIC, cancer spreads through the serosa to nearby organs.
By stage lll Cancer may have spread through the mucosa of the colon wall to the submucosa and muscle layer, and has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes or tissues near the lymph nodes. OR, cancer has spread through the mucosa to the submucosa and four to six nearby lymph nodes.

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By stage lV the cancer has spread through the blood and lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the lung, liver, abdominal wall, or ovary.
It is impossible to eliminate, and chances of survival then drop to less than 10%. Very few people have lived more than five years with stage IV colon cancer. Treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therepy can help increaese life expectancy. By stage lV the cancer has spread through the blood and lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the lung, liver, abdominal wall, or ovary.

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The four main treatments for colon cancer are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and targeted therapies. Often, two or more are used at a time. Surgery (colectomy) is used mostly for early-stage colon cancer, and entails removing the cancerous part of the colon and small, healthy portions of the colon on either side. Radiation is usually used when the colon cancer has attached to an organ in the abdomen. It’s not used for widely metastasized colon cancer. Chemotherapy is utilized in many cases of colon cancer because it can effectively treat cancer cells that have metastasized throughout the body.

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New research is showing that genetic testing might be beneficial for colon cancer patients to see which drugs they are most likely to respond to:A trio of new studies adds to the growing evidence that patients with colorectal cancer should have their tumors tested for genetic mutations prior to starting therapy with cetuximab (Erbitux®) or panitumumab (Vectibix®). Tumors with certain mutations are unlikely to respond to the drugs, and these patients should be spared the expense and side effects of the medications, the findings suggest.”(Source: Research also shows that combining drugs has adverse affects on the colon cancer recurrence rate. The chemotherapy drug fluorourcil (5-FU) has shown promise in increasing colon cancer survival rates. Overall, it seems that colon cancer patients are benefitting from new technology—gene testing and clinical trials are making it so that doctors can tailor a treatment plan to target a specific tumor, thereby helping to increase chances of survival.


55 out of every 100,000 men are diagnosed with colon cancer
41 out of 100,000 women are diagnosed with colon cancer
21 deaths per 100,000 men diagnosed with colon cancer
15 deaths per 100,000 women diagnosed with colon cancer
1 in 20 men and women born today will be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer during their lifetime.
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Ronald Reagan treated his colon cancer with surgery, after cancerous polyps were found during a colonoscopy. Two feet of his colon were removed during the surgery. There is a Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, and a Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, but neither were established by Reagan or for the purpose of treatment and education on colon cancer.