Health And Family

Colon cancer: Signs, LA Tenorio's diagnosis, disease also affected Chadwick Boseman, Cory Aquino

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Colon cancer: Signs, LA Tenorio's diagnosis, disease also affected Chadwick Boseman, Cory Aquino
The US' National Cancer Institute's illustration of the colon.
National Cancer Institute/File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine sporting community, and the country as a whole, is still processing the announcement by basketball legend LA Tenorio that he has been diagnosed with colon cancer.

The Barangay Ginebra star dubbed PBA's "Iron Man" for playing the most games in the league revealed he was diagnosed with the disease at its third stage, but had already done surgery and will undergo treatment for the next few months.

The sporting world will remember that the Brazilian Pele, arguably the greatest footballer of all time, passed away last December 2022 because of colon cancer — the same disease that "Black Panther" actor Chadwick Boseman had a private battle before his untimely death in August 2020.

Closer to home, the late president Corazon "Cory" Aquino suffered from colon cancer for a year before passing away in 2009 from cardiac arrest.

With a growing attention toward the disease, here's a quick explainer about colon cancer and its symptoms, risks, and the necessary screening to detect it.

Basic background

Colon cancer, the more common name of colorectal cancer, is a disease that occurs in the colon or rectum wherein either of the two grow abnormally large.

Both body parts belong to the digestive system; the colon is the large intestine/bowel and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.

The Mayo Clinic says the abnormal growth of benign cells clumps are called polyps, and these polyps are what can become colon cancer — that is unless they are screened ahead of time and removed early.

Causes, signs, symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors aren't certain how most colon cancers are caused but they generally begin from the mutation of healthy cells in the colon and the accumulation of these cells form a cancerous tumor.

Related: LA Tenorio, PBA's 'Iron Man', says he's been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • a change in bowel habits
  • blood in or on one's bowel movement
  • diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that one's bowel isn't completely empty
  • abdominal pain, aches, or constant cramps
  • unexplainable weight loss, weakness, fatigue

The Mayo Clinic adds that many people with colon cancer don't experience the above symptoms during the disease's early stages, and when they do it depends on the size and location of the cancer.


Both the CDC and the Mayo Clinic say the risks of getting colon cancer increases with age, although it could occur anytime, and from the following health and lifestyle risk factors:

  • family history of colon cancer or colorectal polyps
  • inflammatory bowel disease (ex. Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • lack of physical activity
  • low-fiber but high-fat diet (high in processed meats) and lacking fruits and vegetables in one's diet
  • obesity
  • alcohol and tobacco use

The Mayo Clinic further notes that African-Americans have a greater risk than other races, the disease can occur from abdomen-directed radiation therapy to treat previous cancers, and there is an increasing rate of the disease occurring in people below 50 years old (majority are often older than that).

Screening and prevention

It is highly suggested to get regular screenings for colon cancer once one is 45 years old so that doctors can see in advance if polyps are forming; individuals with disease history in the family may need to have routine checks even earlier.

Lifestyle changes can also decrease the risk of colon cancer like less fat and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in one's diet, regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol and smoking.

For individuals with higher risks of colon cancer, there are medications available that reduce the risk of precancerous polyps; more evidence is needed for the effects of other existing medications, which is why discussions with one's doctor remains the best option.

RELATED: Colorectal cancer now Philippines' number 1 cancer





  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with