Last Updated on
Colon cancer is cancer that affects the large intestine (colon), which is the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer is a cancer that appears in the last several inches of the colon. Both of this cancer together refer to colorectal cancers.
In many cancer colon cancers being in small benign clumps, which are not dangerous or cancerous, called adenomatous polyps. Over time these polyps become cancerous, becoming colon cancers.
Polys may be very small and create few if any symptoms. The Doctor recommend regular screening test to help prevent clon cancer by identifying polyps before they become colon cancer.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
The symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A change in your bowel habits, diarrhea or constipation or change in stool consistency.
- Blood in stool, or rectal bleeding
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as gas pain and cramps.
- Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
- Unexplained weight loss
- The weakness of fatigue
Many people who have developed colon cancer experience no systems at all in the early stages the disease. When symptoms appear, they can vary depending on he size of the cancerous cells and their location in your large intestine.
If you notice any symptoms of colon, such as blood in the stool or persistent change in bowel habits. You should talk to your doctor.
If you are over 50, there are general recommended guidelines for getting colon cancer screenings. If you are higher risk or family history, it may be recommended to get frequent or earlier screening.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
In the majority cases, it is not certain what causes colon cancer. Doctors know that colon cancer occurs when the healthy cells in the colon are changed.
Healthy cells develop and split in an orderly way to keep your body normally operating However when a cell is damaged and becomes cancerous; cells continue to decide, even when new cells are not needed. This cancer cell can invade and eliminate normal tissue nearby, and malignant cells can travel to other parts of the body.
Precancerous growths in the colon.
Colon cancer often starts with clumps of polyps that line the inside of the colon. Polys can come in mushroom shapes or recessed into the wall of the colon. Eliminating polyps before they become malignant can stop colon cancer from forming.
Inheriting gene mutations can lead to increase risk of Colon cancer
Inherited gene mutations increase the risk of colon cancer being passed through heredity to different family members. Inherited genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancers. Inherited gene mutations Inherited gene mutations do not guarantee cancer, but it does make a person’s risk of cancer more significant.
The most common forms of inherited colon cancer can are:
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). FAP is a rare disorder that can cause you develop thousands of polyps in the lining of your colon and rectum. People that are not treated for FAP can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer before they are 40 years old.
Hereditary Non-polyposis Colorectal cancer (HNPCC) also called lynch syndrome, increase the likelihood of colon cancer and other cancers. People with HNPCC tend to develop colon cancer before the age of 50.
FAP and HNPCC and other rarer inspired colon cancer syndromes can be identified through genetic testing. If you think you or your family is at risk of colon cancer, you should talk to your doctor to find out if you or a family member is asked risk for one of these conditions.
There are several risk factors may increase the likelihood of getting colon cancer.
Aging – The vast majority of individuals who are diagnosed with colon cancer are over the age of 50. Colon cancer does affect younger people; it just occurs much less frequently.
African Americans Background – African-American has a higher risk of developing colon cancer than other races.
Historical Health issues with Colorectal Cancer or Polyps. People who have already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps are at higher risk of colon cancer in the future.
Inflammatory Intestinal conditions. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon such as Chrons disease, ulcerative colitis can increase your colon cancer.
Inherited Syndromes that increase colon cancer risk – Genetic syndromes passed through different family members through heredity can increase the likelihood of colon cancer. These syndromes can include adenomatous polyposis and heredity nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, which is also known as lynch syndrome.
The family history of colon cancer and polyps from the colon. You are more likely to develop colon cancer if you have parent, sibling or child with the colon or rectal cancer. The genetic ink to cancer in the same family can be a result of exposure to the same environmental factors, diets or lifestyle factors.
Low-Fiber and High-Fat diet- Colon and rectal cancer are linked to a diet with low fiber and high fat and calorie count. Although this research has mixed results, some studies have shown higher cancer levels with people who eat high levels of red meat.
A Sedentary Lifestyle – If you are inactive, you are more highly likely to develop colon cancer. Getting regular physical activity may reduce your chances of colon cancer.
Diabetes- People with diabetes and insulin resistance will increase the risk of colon cancer.
Obesity – Individuals who are obese have an increased danger of developing colon cancer and the overweight people have an increased risk of dying of colon cancer, compared to people considered normal weight.
Smoking – Pople, who smoke cigarettes, are at a higer risk of developing colon cancer.
Alcohol – heavy drinking of alcohol can increase the likelihood of colon cancer
Radiation therapy for cancer _People who have radiation therapy directed to the abdomen area for previous cancer treatment may have increase colon cancer risk.
Test and Diagnosis
Diagnose Colon Cancer
IF you have symptoms that indicate that you have colon cancer, your doctor may reommend tets or procedures including:
Your doctor may conduct a colonoscopy that uses a flexible long and slender tube that has a video camera attached to the end, feeding imagery to a monitor for your doctor to see the entire colon and rectum. If your doctor sees any areas that may have developed polyps or cancer, you doctor can push surgical tools through the colonoscopy tube to take biopsies (tissue samples) for analysis,
The doctor can also use multop CT images to create pictures of the colon. CT colonography also known as a virtual colonoscopy, combining multiple CT scan images to develop a detailed image of the inside of the colon. If a person is unable to do a regular colonoscopy, the doctor may recommend a virtual colonoscopy.
Stages of Colon Cancer
Once someone is diagnosed with colon cancer, the doctor will order a particular test to understand the extent of cancer. Understanding the different stages of cancer help the doctor determines which treatments are most appropriate for the patient.
Staging test may require images procedures such as abdominal and chest CT scans. Often the stage of cancer may not be determined until after colon cancer suegry is performed.
Stages of Colon Cancer
Stage I of cancer is wenge cancer has grown beyond the superficial lining (mucosa ) of the colon or rectum has not expanded beyond the colon wall or rectum.
Stage II of cancer has grown into the wall of the colon or rectum but has not expanded to lymph nodes nearby
Stage III cancer invaded nearby lymph nodes, however, is not affecting other parts of the body yet.
Stage IV cancer can expand to different parts of the body including organs, such as the liver of lungs.
Colon Cancer Treatments and Medications
There type of treatment that your doctor recommends depends on the stage of cancer that you have. There are three primary options: sure chemotherapy and radiation
Surgery for early stage colon cancer
In early stage cancer, small and local polyps may be easy for the doctor to remove completely with colonoscopy. Larger polyps can be eliminated by sing endoscopic muscal resection. If a pathologist thinks that it is likely to have been removed, there may not be any need for additional treatment.
Polyps unable to be removed through colonoscopy may be removed with a laparoscopic surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon will perform the operation through several small incisions in your abdominal wall. Inserting instruments that are appended with cancer that can display your colon on a video monitor. The surgeon may also take lymph node samples, in the area of the colon where the cancer is located.
Invasive Colon Cancer Surgery
If your cancer has expanded beyond the colon wall, your surgeon may recommend a partial colectomy, which the remove of part of the colon that contains cancer. A margin of normal tissue will also be removed on either side of cancer. If lymph nodes are located nearby, they are usually emoved and tested for cancer.
Your surgeon is often able to reconnect healthy parts of he colon and rectm. If this not abe to be done, if the cancer is at the rectum’s outlet, you may have to have a tempory or permanent colostomy. This will involve creating an opening in the wall of the abdomen from a piece of the remaining bowl, for eliminating body waste into a unique bag. Sometimes the colostomy may be temport which allow the rectum or colon to heal after surgery. The colostomy may be permanent, if severe damage is done to the colon or rectum.
Advanced Cancer Surgery
If cancer has expanded throughout the body and overall health has become very poor, the surgeon may recommend an operation to relieve the blockage in the colon, or other conditions to improve symptoms. This surgery is not done to due to the cancer, it is done to relieve symptoms of colon cancer, such as pain and bleeding.
In particular cases where cancer has expanded only to the liver, and your health is good, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the malignant lesions from the liver. Chemotherapy may also be used before surgery to improve the outcome.
Chemotherapy uses medication to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy fo colon cancer can be recommended after surgery if cancer has expanded to lymph nodes. The chemotherapy may help reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
Chemotherapy can also be offered to relieve colon cancer symptoms, as the disease spreads to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy may also be utilized before surgery to reduce the cancer cells, before having a procedure. In people with rectal cancer, doctors normal recommend chemotherapy with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy uses powerful x-rays to destroy cancerous cells that could remain in the colon after surgery, to reduce the size of tumors, before a procedure they can be eliminated easier, or relieve symptoms of a colon or rectal cancer.
Radiation therapy is unlikely to be used in early stage colon cancer, but this is a routin portion of treating rectal cancer, especially if cancer has gone through the wall of the rectum or reached nearby by lymph nodes. Radiation therapy combines with chemotherapy, may be used after surgery to reduce the risk that cancer may recur in the rectum area.
Targeted medication therapy
Medications that target specific areas that malignant cells grow are available to individuals with advanced colon cancer.
This drugs include bevacizumab (Avastin), cetuximab (Erbitux), panitumumab (Vectibix) and regorafenib (Stivarga). The targeted drug can be offered to the patient along with chemotherapy or with them. Targeted medications are typically given to people with advanced colon cancer.
Although some people benefit from targeted drugs, other do not. Today researchers are working on understanding who is most likely to benefit from using targeted medications. So do doctors have to weigh carefully the current benefit of using targeted drugs against the risk of side effects and the expensive cost when deciding treatment options.
People who are over the age of 50 have an average risk of getting colon cancer so they should consider going to get screened. However, populations that should consider getting screening earlier are those with higher, such as African Americans and American Indians -getting tested at age 45 may be recommended.Their several options for getting testing, each has its benefit and drawbacks. You should talk with your physician to find out what would work best for you.
Lifestyle Adjustments Can Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer
You can take daily steps to reduce your likelihood of colon cancer. These steps include:
Eating healthy – Having a variety fo first vegetables and whole grains in your diet is an excellent way to improve your body’s ability to protect itself from cancer. Getting the proper vitamins, minerals fiber and antioxidants in your body will help provide nutrients that you body will need to sustain itself.
Moderation in drinking Alcohol – If you do drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol that you drink, No more than one drink a day for women, and men should drink no more than two drinks per day.
Do not smoke- If you are smoking talk to your doctor about ways that you quit.
Exercise Consistently throughout the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes for exercise everyday of the week. If you are inactive, you should start slowly and build up to 30 minutes of exercise time, You should talk to your doctor about an exercise regimen.
Maintain a healthy weight, If you are overweight, you should work to lose weight.If you are a health, you should work to maintain it, by combining a healthy diet with daily exercise. You should ask your doctor and nutrients about ways to achieve this goal You should aim to increase your physical activity and reduce the number of calories you eat.
Colon cancer prevention for individuals at high Risk
Some treatments include medications and surgery, found to reduce the risk of colon cancer and risk of developing precancerous polyps. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that recommending these medications for the average risk of colon cancer will help. If you have a high danger of developing colon cancer, you should consider discussing these options with your doctor.
– There is some evidence that suggests taking aspirin on a regular basis helps reduce the risk of polyps and colon cancer. However, short-term use at low dosages has not found this to be true. High dosages over long time periods, will likely reduce the risk of colon cancer, Yet there is a likelihood of side effects of aspirin such as gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
Celecoxib (Celebrex) Celecoxib is known as a pain reliever, it is a COX-2 inhibitor. There is some evidence that it can reduce the chances of developing precancerous polyps in people who have been diagnosed with polyps in the past. However, COX-2 inhibitors carry the risk od heart problems including the potential for triggering heart attacks. For this reason, some COX-2 inhibitors have been removed from the market.
Surgery – In rare cases, where someone has inherited syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis or inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, your doctor may recommend removing the entire colon or rectum to prevent cancer from occurring.