A Basic Guide to Colon Cancer
Colon cancer, as its name suggests, is a disease that affects the colon.
The colon is a tube-shaped organ, located in the abdomen, which forms the last part of the gastrointestinal system.
It twists and turns a lot, so its length is over 4 feet.
The functions of the colon are to reabsorb fluids and create the concentrated fecal material, which is then stored and eliminated from the colon when the time comes.
The end of the colon is called rectum. The rectum and the colon together form the large intestine.
When colon cancer occurs, tumors appear on the inner walls of the large intestine.
There are two types of tumors – benign tumors, also called polyps, which are not dangerous, and malignant tumors, which are the cancer.
Polyps do not spread to other cells and tissues, and they can be easily removed.
Tumors, on the other hand, can spread and cause life-threatening complications.
Remember that a benign polyp will turn into a malignant tumor if it is not treated in time.
Once a colon cancer appears it will start to spread and attack other tissues and cells, and eventually, it can reach the lungs or the liver and form new tumors there.
The causes of colon cancer aren’t entirely known, but what is known is that some people are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer than others.
Those who consume large quantities of fats and those who have a history of colon cancer in the family are most likely to get colon cancer.
Smoking and alcohol also increase the risk.
The disease has almost no symptoms when it is in its early stages, and when it advances, the symptoms are different from one person to another, and they depend on the size of the cancer and its exact location.
The most commonly encountered symptoms of colon cancer are:
- narrow stools
- stool that contains blood
- abdominal cramps and pain
- excessive gas
- weight loss
- change in bowel habits
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above consult a doctor as fast as you can.
He or she will make several tests in order to establish a diagnosis.
Some people consider these tests to be embarrassing because among them there are rectal exams and fecal sample tests.
If the test results indicate colon cancer, then treatment must begin as soon as possible before it spreads to other areas.
If you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer, then your next step is to think about treatment.
Treatment options vary and will be determined by the stage of colon cancer and the location of the cancer.
Your oncologist will be able to give you the best advice on which treatment option is right for you.
This article is going to explain three of the most common treatments for colon cancer. Keep reading to gain a valuable education.
Surgery is a Standard Treatment for Colon Cancer
Surgery to remove all sections of the bowel that has been affected by cancer is a common treatment in all stages of colon cancer.
There are usually 3 common types of surgery that can be used to remove colon cancer. They are:
1. Local excision.
This is reserved for cancer that is found in the early stages.
The doctor will simply insert a tube into your rectum and advance it into the colon.
He will then be able to cut away the cancerous part of the colon.
If a polyp is involved, he can remove the polyp this way also. This is a fairly simple surgery and requires no incision.
This is used if the cancer in the colon has become quite large.
The surgeon will make an incision into the abdomen and then remove part of the colon that is affected by the cancer.
He will also remove small sections of healthy tissue that surrounds the diseased section of the bowel.
Lymph nodes near the colon may be removed so they can be examined to determine if the cancer has spread.
The surgeon will then sew the two healthy ends of the bowel together.
3. Resection and colostomy.
Depending on the what part of the colon is affected and how much of the colon is involved, the surgeon may be unable to sew the healthy ends back together.
In that case, one end of the bowel will be brought through a hole that is made in the abdomen. This is called a stoma.
The patient will then need to wear a bag over the stoma because the waste is now being expelled through the stoma.
This is called a colostomy. Many people are able to lead normal lives after a colostomy.
Radiation to Treat Colon Cancer
Radiation can be high energy x-rays or other forms of radiation that is used to kill off cancer cells or to keep them from growing.
Radiation may be given externally, or it may be given internally through needles, seeds or catheters that are placed near the cancer.
The way radiation is used is determined by the location and the size of the cancer.
Chemotherapy Treatment for Colon Cancer
Chemotherapy drugs can be used to kill cancer cells or to stop them from spreading.
Chemotherapy can be injected into the vein or ingested through the mouth in the form of pills.
It can also be injected directly into the area that is affected by the cancer such as the abdomen or the spine.
All of these treatments may be used alone or in combination with each other.
A lot of patients that have surgery to remove part of the diseased colon will have chemotherapy or radiation to kill off any traveling cancer cells.
Colon cancer can be cured if caught early enough and contained. Stay in tune with your body and get regular check-ups.
While every opportunity has been taken to ensure that all information is correct and up to date at the time of writing, it is not meant to be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Please ensure you always consult your health care specialist if you’re in any way concerned about your health.
It’s important to pay attention to the above colon cancer symptoms and consult your doctor for medical advice from time to time.