colon is the longest part of the large intestine and lower part of the digestive system. Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. The disease is slightly more common in men than in women and risk of colon cancer increases with age. Salt water and solid waste after digestion of extracted small intestine get inside the colon, before moving into the rectum for elimination from the body.
What is colon cancer?
The uncontrolled growth of cells lining the large intestine known as colon cancer. In most cases, colon cancer begins as small noncancerous known as benign tumors or adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps can grow into malignant tumors. It is better to have regular screening tests to identify polyps before they become colon cancer. Polyps can be removed by colonoscopy. Cancer cells can travel through the blood and lymph and can spread to other healthy parts. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are not the same, but often occur together and are known as colorectal cancer.
causes of colon cancer
There are no specific causes are identified for colon cancer. When the cells grow without control and do not die, it occurs in cancer. There are certain factors that increase the risk of colon cancer. They include
- Genetics – 20% of colon cancers are caused by inherited mutations in genes
- Polyps- adenomas and inflammatory polyps can become cancerous
- habits and diet- sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, diets low in fiber, fat and calorie diets, red etc meat increases the risk of colon cancer
- Certain Medical factors- health conditions such as diabetes, ulcerative colitis, acromegaly, treatment of Crohn’s disease and other radiation cancers increases the risk of colon cancer.
Symptoms of colon cancer
In the early stages of colon cancer that the person may not experience any symptoms. When cancer reaches the advanced stage the following symptoms
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Changes in stool consistency
- Stomach pain
- weight loss
- Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
- Continua urges to defecate
- bowel Syndrome irritable
When cancer metastasizes or spreads to other parts, additional symptoms are present in the most recently affected. The liver is the most common site for metastasis.
Symptoms of colon cancer in men
there is not much variation in the symptoms seen in men and women affected by colorectal cancer, common symptoms in men include
• a change in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea
• the narrowing of the stool that lasts more than a few days
• rectal bleeding, blood in the stool or dark colored
• weight loss unwanted
• weakness and fatigue
symptoms of colon cancer in women
Some of the common symptoms of colon cancer in women are
• Changes in bowel movements including constipation or diarrhea
• feeling of not being able to completely empty the bowel
• rectal cramps or rectal bleeding
• Blood in the stool or thin stools
• abdominal discomfort and swelling
• unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss
• pelvic pain
[ read also: Top 5 home remedies for colon cancer ]
signs of colon cancer
There are several non-specific signs of colon cancer. Signs may vary depending on the position of the tumor in the large intestine. Cancer on the right side of the colon because of iron deficiency anemia as blood loss occurs over a long period of time. Signs of cancer on the right side of the colon are
• Fatigue and weakness
• Difficulty breathing
The tumor on the left side of the colon is likely to cause partial or complete intestinal obstruction. The most common signs include
• diarrhea or constipation
• Dark red or blood in the stool
• Abdominal pain
• Stomach cramps and bloating
• Weight loss
metastatic colon cancer
sometimes cancer cells in an area of the body that can spread to other parts of the body is known as secondary spread or metastasis. The colon cancer cells can travel through the lymphatic system or current bold and may spread to the liver, bones or any other organ. The exact cause of metastatic colon cancer is not known.
Stages of colon cancer
to diagnose colon cancer, the doctor may perform colonoscopy or barium enema X-ray detected by colonoscopy polyps are removed and sent for biopsy to check for cancer cells. After diagnosis stage of cancer is identified. The stages of colon cancer are identified using the method called the TNM system. T indicates the size and extent of the primary tumor or invasiveness of cancer cells in the intestinal wall, N indicates the degree to which the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and M indicates whether the cancer has spread to other body organs .
Surgery Colon Cancer
The doctor may suggest surgery for colon cancer to stop the spread of cancer, to remove intestinal obstruction, or eliminate secondary invasion. Surgery to remove part or all of the colon is known as a colectomy. During this surgery, the surgeon will remove part of the colon with cancer cells and surrounding areas. Nearby lymph nodes are also removed as a precaution to prevent secondary cancer. Doctors use the endoscope to remove small localized cancers. Larger polyps are often removed by laparoscopic surgery. In advanced or incurable cases palliative surgery is used to relieve symptoms such as pain, bleeding, etc.
The treatment of colon cancer depends on the type of cancer, tumor size, stage of cancer, age of the person, health status patient etc. No single treatment is effective for colon cancer. The treatments are commonly used
- chemotherapy This uses chemicals that kill cancer cells. It is very effective for cancer metastasis. There are side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, vomiting and treatment.
- Radiation therapy – high-energy gamma rays This use to kill cancer cells. These are effective in reducing tumors. Side effects of radiation therapy include mild skin changes, such as sunburn or tan, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. Patients tend to lose their appetite experience weight loss, but most of these side effects disappear a few weeks after completing treatment.
- surgery- If colon cancer is causing symptoms, it is better to operate to remove the affected part of the colon. Your doctor will be able to suggest the best treatment option for you after considering several factors.
regular screening is the best method to detect and prevent colon cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating fiber containing fruits and vegetables, reduce intake of fat and red meat and exercise also helps prevent colon cancer.