What is Colon Cancer?
Colon Cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the large intestine colon. Although colon cancer is more prevalent among older adults, it may develop at any age. It often starts as tiny, benign clumps of cells on the inside of the colon. As time progresses, these cells may become cancerous. This is why doctors recommend getting a screening test regularly. This will help identify these polyps earlier and remove them before they turn cancerous. When colon cancer and rectal cancer both occur at the same time, it is known as colorectal cancer.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Some of the commonly seen Colon Cancer symptoms include:
- Blood in your stool
- Fatigue or weakness
- Persistent stomach trouble like cramps, pain or gas
- Weight loss
- Narrow stools
- A persistent change in bowel habits
- A sensation that your bowel is never empty completely
Like other types of cancer, the symptoms do not often appear during the early stages of colon cancer. As time progresses, the cancer advances resulting in the signs and symptoms mentioned above. In most cases, a persistent change in bowel habits like sudden diarrhoea or constipation is observed, followed by rectal bleeding. Once cancer spreads elsewhere, you will also experience additional symptoms.
Who is at Risk?
The Colon Cancer risk factors are:
- Age: Colon cancer is often diagnosed in people above 50 years of age. Although there have also been several cases of younger people developing colon cancer.
- African-American race: Studies have shown that people belonging to the African-American race are more prone to developing colon cancer.
- Medical history of polyps or colorectal cancer: If you have had polyps or colorectal cancer earlier, you are at a higher risk of getting colon cancer in the future.
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Inflammatory intestinal conditions and diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis increase your risk of developing colon cancer.
- Family history of colon cancer: If anyone in your family has had colon cancer, you are at a higher risk of developing it at some point in time.
Besides the above-mentioned risk factors, other reasons for Colon Cancer include a sedentary lifestyle, low-fibre and high-fat diet, obesity, diabetes, smoking, alcohol and so on.
Colon Cancer Causes
Unfortunately, doctors are not too certain about the causes of Colon Cancer. According to different medical studies, colon cancer often occurs when the healthy cells in the colon start to develop mutations in their DNA. Once the DNA of these cells have been changed, they start dividing and multiplying at a very fast rate. As the number of cells grows in number, they form a mass or a tumour. These lumps of mass are called polyps. The cancer cells will also start destroying nearby healthy tissue, causing cancer to spread elsewhere in the body. Fortunately, with regular screening, you can prevent colon cancer and catch it early on.
How is Colon Cancer diagnosed?
A doctor will be able to come to a Colon Cancer diagnosis after a physical examination, questions about medical history and family medical history as well as a couple of tests. In most cases, doctors order a colonoscopy to help them rule out any other reasons for your symptoms. The colonoscopy procedure involves inserting a flexible, long tube with a camera at one end through your rectum to take a close look at the inside of your colon. You will need to be on a special liquid diet about 48 hours before the procedure. In case any polyps are found during the procedure, the doctor will remove them and send them for a biopsy. Other procedures that are ordered by the doctor include flexible sigmoidoscopy and double-contrast barium enema. Based on the results of these tests as well as the biopsy of the polyps, the Colon Cancer doctor will be able to come to a final diagnosis.
How is Colon Cancer treated?
Colon Cancer treatment depends on which stage of cancer you are at. The doctor will also consider your other health concerns, type of Colon Cancer and the location of cancer before choosing a course of treatment. Some of the commonly prescribed treatments for Colon Cancer cure besides medicine for Colon Cancer include
- Radiation therapy
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Partial colectomy surgery
- Lymph node removal
You can consult with one of the top Oncologists in the country via Cure.fit’s online video consultation to find out which is the best course of treatment in your case.
How can Colon Cancer be prevented?
Prevention of Colon Cancer is possible by switching to a healthy lifestyle. This includes avoiding smoking, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly and so on. With colon cancer occurring without any warning, it is better to prevent it in the long run.