All cancers are formed when normal cells start dividing in an abnormal way. Colon cancer makes no exception from this point of view. Colon cancer is the cancer that forms in the cells of the colon, which is the lower part of the digestive system. In most cases, colon cancer stars as small, noncancerous clumps of cells, which are commonly known as adenomatous polyps. These polyps grow and evolve to become cancerous.
Colon cancer symptoms
In many cases, colon cancer causes no symptoms until the disease evolves. Even though in the first stages of the disease patients can experience no symptoms, this is not a rule. When symptoms do occur, they will vary from one case to another, depending on a series of factors, including the size and location of the cancerous tumors.
- A change in the bowel habits;
- Diarrhea or constipation;
- Change in the consistency of the stool;
- Rectal bleeding;
- Blood in the stool;
- A feeling that the bowel is not empty;
- Abdominal discomfort;
- Cramps and pain;
- Severe weight loss with no particular reason.
Patients should see a doctor as soon as one of these symptoms is experienced. In most cases, changes in the bowel habits should show patients that something is wrong.
Colon Cancer Causes and risk factors
In the majority of cases, colon cancer has no particular cause. However, there are a series of factors that can increase the risk of developing this hard to cure condition.
Risk factors include:
- Older age -- people aged over 50 are believed to be at an increased risk;
- African-American race;
- A personal history of colorectal cancer;
- A personal history of inflammatory intestinal conditions;
- Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk;
- Family history of cancer;
- Unhealthy diet, including low-fiber and high-fat foods;
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Heavy alcohol consumption.
Colon Cancer Diagnosis
Colon cancer can be diagnosed through a series of tests. Naturally, a specialist will advise potential patients to take such tests, basing on the symptoms of the disease.
- Blood tests;
- Scope to examine the area inside the colon;
- X-rays to make a picture of the colon;
- Multiple CT images to create pictures of the colon.
Basing on the results of such tests, the cancer can be diagnosed.
Staging helps determine the type of treatment that is most appropriate for each case. Depending on the location of the cancerous tumors, as well as their sizes, patients can be diagnosed with colon cancer in one of the following stages:
- Stage I -- the cancer has grown, but has not spread outside of its original location, beyond the colon.
- Stage II -- the cancer has grown to the wall of the colon, but has not affected lymph nodes yet.
- Stage III -- the cancer has invaded nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IV -- the cancer has spread throughout the body, affecting other organs such as the lungs or the liver.
Colon cancer treatment
Like all types of cancers, colon cancer is easier to cure when diagnosed in one of its first stages. Treatment will vary from one case to another. The most common types of treatments recommended to colon cancer patients include:
- Surgery is commonly recommended when the tumors are small. However, this medical intervention can be a solution for advanced cancer cases, too.
- Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can be used both before and after surgery.
- Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, including X-rays, to kill cancer cells.
Colon cancer is a cancer formed by uncontrolled cell growth in the colon. Destroying cancer cells as soon as they are formed is a must to overcome this condition easier.