What You Need to Know for Colon Cancer Treatment

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Colon Cancer Treatment

The colon (or large intestine) is the place where the body extracts water and salt from solid waste. The waste moves through the rectum, and then exits the body via the anus. The rectum is the last few inches of large intestine that are closest to the anus.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer

The following symptoms and signs could be present:

  • constipation or diarrhea
  • Changes in stool consistency such as loose, narrow, stools
  • Blood in the stool may cause stools to appear dark brown or black.
  • Bright red bleeding from the Rectum
  • abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, or gas
  • continual urges to defecate despite passing stools
  • weakness and fatigue
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Irritating Bowel Syndrome
  • Iron-deficiency Anemia

Most often, weight loss and abdominal pain occur in the later stages.

If cancer spreads to another part of the body such as the liver it can cause additional symptoms such as jaundice.

Early signs

Colon cancer can often cause no symptoms at the beginning stages. However, symptoms may become more obvious as the disease progresses. Symptoms that are present in the early stages of colon cancer may include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Changes in the frequency or type of bowel movements such as constipation or diarrhea.
  • The feeling that the bowels are not emptying after a stool movement
  • Bloating, cramping, and abdominal pain can all be caused by a bloated stomach.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anemia due to intestinal bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

Male symptoms

Brigham and Women’s Hospital states that symptoms of colon cancer are usually the same for males and women. The symptoms may be noticed by males.

Female symptoms

The same symptoms may occur in females. Additionally, people who have anemia due to colon cancer may experience irregular menstrual periods.

Stages

There are many ways to assign a stage to cancer. The stages show how far the cancer has spread and how large any tumors are.

The stages of colon cancer develop according to the following Trusted Source

Stage 0: Also known as Find out more about stage 4 colon cancer.

Causes

Cells usually go through a normal cycle of division, growth, and death. Cancer can occur when cells divide and grow uncontrollably, and they don’t die at their normal end of life.

The ACS Trusted Source indicates that although researchers are unsure about the exact cause, certain factors could increase your risk.

Changes in the DNA of cells can cause cancer. Certain genes, called ontogenesis, help cells grow and survive. The tumor suppressor genes regulate cell division as well as cell death.

Multiple gene changes can result in colon cancer.

Polyps are benign growths found inside the colon. Although polyps are not cancerous, some types can lead to cancer.

Adenomatous polyps, a non-cancerous type of polyp, can increase the risk Trusted Source for developing colon cancer. These polyps are found in the large intestine’s inner walls.

Malignant tumors can spread to other parts of your body via the blood and lymph system.

Metastasis is a process in which cancer cells invade healthy tissue and spread throughout the body. This can lead to a more severe and difficult condition that is not easily treated.

Risk factors

Although the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, there are many risk factors.

Polyps

Precancerous polyps in the large intestinal tract can lead to colon cancer . If they are not removed early enough, some of these polyps can develop into colon cancer.

There are several types of polyps:

Adenomas

Adenomas can look similar to the lining of healthy colons but may appear completely different when examined under a microscope. They may develop into cancer.

Hyper plastic polyps

Hyper plastic polyps are not a common cause of colon cancer. They are usually benign.

Genes

Genetic damage or DNA mutations can cause uncontrolled cell growth.

Most Trusted source Genetic mutations can occur in a person’s life, not a genetic mutation they inherit from a relative.

Between 5-10% colon cancers are caused by certain hereditary conditions.

Many inherited conditions, such as:

  • Attenuated familial Adenomatous Polyposis
  • familial adenomatous polypus’s (FAP)
  • Gardner syndrome is a type of FAP that’s different.
  • Lynch syndrome or hereditary polyposis colorectal carcinoma
  • juvenile polypus’s syndrome
  • Muir-Torre syndrome is a variant on Lynch syndrome
  • MUTYH-associated Polyposis
  • Perutz- Jaghir syndrome
  • Turcot syndromes another variant of FAP

These genetic characteristics can be retained without the risk of developing cancer.

Traits, diet, and habits

Colon cancer is highly linked to age. Nearly 90% people who are diagnosed with colorectal carcinoma are over 50. It is becoming more common among people younger than 50.

Colon cancer is more common Trusted Source to be diagnosed in people who are not active, with obese and those who smoke.

As the colon is part of the digestive system, diet and nutrition play central roles in its development.

Those who consume too many of the following are at increased risk.

  • saturated Fats
  • red meat
  • alcohol
  • processed meat

Conditions underpinning

Certain conditions and treatments can increase the risk for colon cancer.

These are:

  • A medical history of polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or breast and ovarian.
  • Obesity or being overweight

Other risk factors

Additional risk factors for colon carcinoma include Trusted Source

  • A history of rectal or colon cancer in a parent, sibling or child
  • A personal history of colon, rectal or ovarian cancer
  • A personal history of polyps greater than 1 cm in size or abnormal cells
  • Lynch syndrome, an inherited genetic condition, is one example.
  • Cohn’s disease or chronic ulcerative colitis for more than 8 years
  • Consuming alcohol regularly three times or more per day
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Older age
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low fiber, high-fat diets that are devoid of fruits and vegetables
  • Race and ethnicity: African Americans, Asians and people of Hispanic heritage might be diagnosed with colon cancer at a later stage.

Treatment options

The type and stage, as well as the treatment options available, will determine how to treat colon cancer. When determining the best treatment option, a doctor will consider the person’s age and overall health.

There is no single treatment for colon cancer, and options may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Surgery

Usually Trusted Source surgery is the main treatment for colon cancer in its early stages. A polypectomy may be necessary to remove the cancerous tumor if it is not present in the polyp.

Colostomy is surgery to remove a portion or the entire colon. A colostomy is a procedure that involves the removal of cancerous parts of the colon and some surrounding tissue.

To reduce the spread of lymphoma, a surgeon might remove any nearby lymph nodes. The surgeon will either reattach the healthy part of the colon or create a stoma depending on how extensive the colostomy was.

A stoma refers to a surgical opening in an abdominal wall. This opening allows waste to pass into a bag that eliminates the need to empty the lower half of the colon. This is called a colostomy.

There are also other types of surgery:

  • Endoscopy

This procedure may be used to treat small, localized tumors. The surgeon will attach a thin flexible tube to the abdomen with a light and camera. The attachment can also be used to remove cancerous tissue.

  • Laparoscopic Surgery

The surgeon will make small incisions to the abdomen. This procedure may be used to remove larger polyps.

  • Palliative Surgery

This type of surgery is designed to alleviate symptoms associated with advanced or untreatable cancers. The surgeon will try to remove any obstruction in the colon, as well as manage pain, bleeding, or other symptoms.

Chemotherapy

A cancer care team may administer medication that will interfere with cell division during chemotherapy. This is done by disrupting DNA or proteins to kill cancer cells.

These treatments can be used to kill any fast-dividing cells, even healthy ones. They can often recover from chemotherapy-induced damage but cancer cells cannot. The drugs travel throughout the body and are administered in cycles so that the body can heal between each dose.

An oncologist or cancer specialist may recommend Trusted Source chemotherapy for colon cancer treatment.

  • To make it simpler to remove a tumor, you will need to first shrink it.
  • After surgery, to eliminate any remaining cancer cells
  • If cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • hair loss
  • nausea
  • Fatigue
  • vomiting

Combination therapies combine multiple types of chemotherapy, or combine chemotherapy with other treatment options.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment that targets cancer cells with high-energy gamma radiation. External radiation therapy is a form of radiation therapy that emits these rays from an outside machine.

A doctor can inject radioactive material near the site of cancer using internal radiation. This is done in the form a seed.

Gamma radiation is emitted by some metals like radium. High energy or X-rays may also be used to produce radiation. A doctor may request radiation therapy as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells. It can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.

Radiation treatments for colon cancer are generally not administered by cancer care teams until the later stages trusted source. If early stage rectal cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or penetrated the wall of rectum, they may be able to use them.

Radiation treatment can have side effects such as:

  • Mild skin changes that look like sunburn, or suntan
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • appetite loss
  • weight loss

Most side effects will disappear or diminish within a few weeks of treatment.

Diagnosis

A doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and inquire about family and personal medical history.

To detect and stage cancer, they may also use these diagnostic techniques:

Colonoscopy

A doctor will insert a flexible, long tube with a camera at one end into the rectum during a colonoscopy to examine the inside of the colon.

Before the procedure, a person might need to follow a specific diet for 1-3 days Trusted Source. A process called bowel preparation will be required to cleanse the colon.

A surgeon will remove any colon polyps found by the doctor and send them to biopsy. A pathologist will examine the biopsy under a microscope in order to identify cancerous or precancerous cell.

The flexible sigmoidoscopy is a similar procedure that allows doctors to examine a smaller area of the colorectal region. This method is not as extensive as a coloscopy. A full colonoscopy might not be required if the sigmoidoscopy doesn’t reveal any polyps, or if they are in a very small area.

Double-contrast barium enema

The barium liquid is used to create clearer images of your colon than standard X-rays. A person might need to refrain from eating or drinking prior to undergoing barium-X-ray. The doctor will inject the liquid solution containing barium through the rectum. To ensure the best results, they will follow this procedure with a quick pumping of air. The radiologist will then take an X-ray to examine the colon and rectum. The X-ray will show the barium as white, with any polyps or tumors appearing as dark circles. If a biopsy suggests the presence of colon cancer, the doctor may order a chest X-ray, an ultrasound, or a Find out more about colon cancer diagnostic tests here.

Prevention

It is impossible to prevent colon cancer. Some preventive measures include Trusted Source

  • Maintaining a moderately sized
  • exercising regularly
  • Consume lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
  • Red meat and saturated fats should be limited

It is also important to limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.

Screening

Sometimes symptoms may not manifest until the cancer has advanced. The American College of Physicians recommends screening people 50-75 years old, with fecal testing and a colonoscopy once every 10 years or a sigmoidoscopy each 10 years.

It all depends on the individual’s risk level. For individual recommendations, patients can consult their doctor.

 

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