Written by HDI Forum
This article hits home a bit, because I had an aunt that was one stage before terminal colon cancer.
Luckily she survived, but she had to undergo major surgeries and if she was diagnosed a few weeks later, she most likely would have died.
So make sure you understand what colon cancer is and how to reduce the risk of it.
This article aims to do just that.
What is Your Colon and Colon Cancer?
Colon is a muscular, tube-shaped organ located at the lower part of your digestive system. It makes up the main portion of the large intestine. The organ has a key role in helping the body taking in nutrients, water, and minerals. It also helps in removing waste of the body in the form of stool.
Colon cancer is the growth of malignant tumor in the tissue of the colon (in the inner wall of the organ). It is somewhat different from rectal cancer, which is located at the last few inches of the colon (rectum). When left untreated, colon cancer can eventually spread to distant organs all over the body.
Why are the symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer are visible during the late years. Those who are experiencing these symptoms should immediately consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Ignoring such signs and symptoms and without the immediate and proper diagnosis, the appropriate management for the illness cannot be started in due time and there are possibilities that these might lead to complications or metastasis.
WebMD has a great list of symptoms as well.
Change in Bowel Habits
Tumor in the bowel brings an observed change in the habits like defecating. With the growth of tumor, you may feel the need of defecating less often and the large size of tumor will lead to constipation.
The only way to know this is to get regular screening done instead of waiting for the symptoms to appear on the surface.
The presence of tumor causes obstruction and with the growth of obstruction there is reduction in the space around. In case the tumor is present at the side of the colon tube passage, it may result into the narrowing of the stool.
Cramping or Bloating in the Stomach
Another symptom in the list of colon cancer symptoms is bloating or cramping in the stomach. Boating may be due to a bowel obstruction while cramping may be the result of constipation or diarrhea. In the advanced stages of colon cancer, tumor perforating i.e. poking through near the wall of the bowel, can lead to extreme abdominal cramping.
Blood in the Stool
There may be blood in the stool which is due to the bleeding of the tumor. Nevertheless, if the tumor is present in the right colon, it is very much possible that the blood will dry up before the faeces are removed from the body. But if it is towards the left or in the rectum, it may remain fresh and thus will appear bright red.
Inexplicable Weight Loss
If you are losing weight without making any deliberate efforts, it is really something to ponder over. Often one has weight loss due to the fact that something wrong is going in the body. However, in colorectal cancer, unexplained loss in weight is one of the colon cancer symptoms and it indicates that the bowel is being blocked at some place, along the passage, by a tumor.
Exhaustion and Feelings of Fatigue
You are having proper sleep but still feel exhausted. There may be more than one reason and work load may not be the obvious one. The first possibility is that it may be due to anemia which takes place if the red blood cells are not able to carry sufficient oxygen as much they are required to. Consequently, you might feel exhausted. But it may also be due to tumors. Tumors can also be the cause of anemia.
Feel Like to Defecate but Not
You may feel like to go for defecation but you do not. This kind of sensation in the body may take place due to a tumor growing in the end of the colon or rectum.
Although colon cancer may have numerous symptoms, in the early stages of the disease many suffering from colon cancer experience no symptoms. When the symptoms appear, they tend to vary, depending on the location and size of the cancer in the large intestine. Unfortunately the symptoms of colon cancer are not always obvious. For that reason, it is important for you to learn what the cancer symptoms look and feel like, so you can be aware of the disease for your long-term health.
How to Effectively Treat Colon Cancer
Chemotherapy or radiation may follow the surgical procedure if there is any chance that cancer cells were missed or thought to be in other areas of your body. Chemotherapy medications are administered either through an IV or through a pill form. The medication kills and controls cancerous cells. If colon cancer is caught at early onset, and presents very small and isolated, your doctor may consider using just chemotherapy or radiation to eliminate the cancer.
Depending on the size of the cancer, location, overall general health, and in what stage the cancer was detected will play a factor into what type of treatment will be discussed with you through your doctor. The most common method of colon cancer treatment is surgical removal often followed by chemo or radiation is it is felt there is any risk of cancerous cells remaining. Surgical removal of cancer in the colon often results in a temporary or permanent colostomy. Your surgeon will remove the cancer from your colon along with a certain percentage of healthy colon on each side of the cancerous growth. They will then reattach the colon. In many cases, if the cancer is not caught at onset, the surgeon will have to remove quiet a large section of the colon leading to the need of a permanent colostomy bag. A colostomy bag becomes the new exit for your bodies waste. Sometimes a patient will have to wear a temporary colostomy bag to give the colon the proper time needed to heal successfully.
Biological therapy is also being offered to patients with colon cancer. It is still on a research basis treatment; however, researches have been seeing significant results. Biologic therapy works with your body’s immune system to eliminate cancer cells. Currently there are several different types of biological therapy being tested including interferons, interleukins, colony stimulating factors, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, gene therapy, and nonspecific immune-modulating agents. Biological therapy can be used in conjunction of more traditional means of therapy, or depending on the stage. The different types of biologic therapies, in theory, are a means to wake up your own immune system to recognize the cancer cells as being a foreign object in your system and fight them off much like your immune system does when you get a virus. Most of the biologic therapies are used to stop the growth of cancer cells, or control or suppress the growth.
Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation to control malignant cancer cells either before or after surgery, or both. It can also be done solely if the colon cancer is caught early. Before surgery, it is generally used to control and/or minimize the size of the tumor to make removal of the tumor easier. After surgery it s used to eradicate any existing cancer cells that may still be present. The ionized radiation is applied directly to the tumor and a small amount of the surrounding healthy tissue to ensure that the entire tumor is treated.
If you fall in the risk factors of colon cancer such as over the age of 50, previous history of cancer, family history, or other colon/rectal related problems make sure you get regular checkups. Early detection is essential in the battle of colon cancer.
If faced with colon cancer, educate yourself to all of the options available to you and discuss them in detail with your doctor.