What is Colon Cancer?
Cancer of the colon, also known as rectovaginal cancer, develops in the colon or rectum. Tumors emerge when aberrant cells proliferate and multiply uncontrolled. Over the course of several years, colon cancer can slowly spread from benign polyps.
Although the origin of colon cancer is still unknown, many variables have been related to its development, including age (those over have increased chances), a family history of colorectal malignancies, smoking, inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.
Constipation, diarrhoea, blood in faeces, abdominal pain/cramping, exhaustion, and unexplained weight loss are just few of the symptoms that may accompany this illness. You should visit a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms so that a correct diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin.
Stay tuned to learn more about how doctors diagnose colon cancer!
Types of Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon, or rectum, is a form of cancer. Different forms of colon cancer exist because the cancerous cells might begin their growth at various locations throughout the colon.
- Adenocarcinoma is responsible for almost 95% of all occurrences of colon cancer. The colon or rectum’s lining cells are the first to develop into cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma arises from flat cells lining the surface layers of tissues and organs throughout your body. It usually occurs in areas with high concentrations such as skin, lungs or digestive tract.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are another rare form of colorectal tumor found primarily within the wall muscles surrounding your intestines. They start from specialized cells called interstitial cells Cajal (ICCs).
- Lymphoma is a rare form that arises from white blood cells called lymphocytes located within other organs like bone marrow, spleen and lymph nodes.
Knowing these different types is important because they may require specific treatment options depending on their location and stage. Early detection through screening tests could increase chances for successful treatment outcomes.
Causes of Colon Cancer
Although the precise origins of colon cancer remain unknown, numerous risk factors have been recognized. Heredity, lifestyle, and the natural environment are all potential contributors.
- Colon cancer can have hereditary components. You may be at a higher risk for having colon cancer if you have a family history of the disease or of another type of cancer, such as ovarian or endometrial cancer.
- Lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise can also contribute to your chances of getting colon cancer. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have been associated to a lower risk, whereas a diet heavy in red meat and processed foods has been connected to an elevated risk.
- Environmental factors like exposure to pollutants or radiation may also increase your likelihood of developing colon cancer. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to increase the incidence as well.
- Other medical conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can put individuals at greater risk for developing colon cancer.
It is important to discuss any concerns with your doctor who will aid in determining if additional screenings are necessary based on individual circumstances.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon is a disease of the large intestine. Some persons with colon cancer may not experience any symptoms at all, and vice versa.
Rectal bleeding, manifested by blood in the stool or on wiped toilet paper, is a common sign of colon cancer. Alterations in bowel regularity, such as prolonged diarrhea or constipation, are another indicator of a problem. Stomach cramps and soreness are another common symptom.
Other less common symptoms include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and weakness. Some patients may also experience nausea and vomiting.
Colon cancer isn’t the only disease that can cause these symptoms; nonetheless, you should still get checked out if you notice any of them. Don’t put off seeing a doctor if you’re having stomach or intestinal problems; early discovery is crucial for treating colon cancer.
Diagnosis of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer, like all cancers, can be frightening to think about. However, early detection is crucial for effective treatment and recovery. Here we will discuss the different methods of diagnosing colon cancer.
- Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colon cancer. A tiny tube fitted with a camera is introduced into the rectum and used to monitor the whole length of the colon. Biopsies can be taken to check for malignant cells in the event that polyps or tumors are discovered.
- The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is another diagnostic method. Stool samples are analyzed for traces of blood, which can be an indicator of intestinal illness or colon cancer. The fact that not all polyps bleed means that FOBTs can give false negative results.
- A virtual colonoscopy uses CT scans instead of an actual scope but provides similar results as far as detecting abnormalities in your intestines goes.
- Your doctor may recommend more imaging tests, such as an MRI or ultrasound, if you encounter symptoms like stomach pain or a change in bowel habits.
Several factors, such as age and family history, help doctors determine the best strategy for detecting colon cancer.
Treatment of Colon Cancer
Depending on the disease’s stage and where it’s located, a doctor may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or another method to treat colon cancer. The major focus of colon cancer treatment is the complete excision of all malignant tissue.
- The standard of care for treating colon cancer is surgery. During surgery, surgeons remove the diseased section of colon and any lymph nodes in close proximity to it. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are two examples of additional therapies that may be performed before or after surgery to eliminate any leftover cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy is the use of medications to inhibit the growth and division of cells, including cancerous tumor cells. High-energy waves or particles are used in radiation therapy to kill or harm cancer cells. Depending on the patient’s needs, these treatments may be administered alone or in tandem with others.
- Targeted therapies are newer medications that work by targeting specific genes within tumor cells that allow them to grow and divide uncontrollably. Immunotherapy also known as biological therapy helps boost your immune system’s ability to fight off cancers like colorectal carcinoma.
You and your healthcare team should sit down and talk about all of the therapy possibilities so that you may choose the one that is best for you.
Clinical Trials for Colon Cancer
Clinical trials are research studies conducted to improve our understanding and treatment of diseases like colon cancer. Volunteers who satisfy certain requirements are used to test new medications, therapies, or procedures.
Participating in a clinical trial for colon cancer can offer several benefits. For one thing, participants may receive access to cutting-edge treatments that are not yet available to the general public. Additionally, they will be closely monitored by medical professionals throughout the study period.
However, there are also risks associated with clinical trials. Experimental treatments can have unknown side effects or prove ineffective against the disease being studied. It is crucial for potential participants to carefully review all of the information provided about a given trial before deciding whether or not it is right for them.
Clinical trials play an essential role in advancing our understanding of colon cancer and improving outcomes for patients with this devastating disease. By participating in these studies as volunteers, individuals can help contribute to meaningful progress in the fight against colon cancer and other types of cancers too!
Prevention of Colon Cancer
Avoidance is always preferable to treatment. Similarly, this is true for colon cancer. Although it may not be feasible to totally remove risk, there are things you may do to lessen your likelihood of having colon cancer.
- Keeping a healthy lifestyle is crucial in the fight against colon cancer. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should make up the bulk of your diet, whereas red and processed meats should be eaten very occasionally. You can further reduce your risk by engaging in regular physical activity.
- Colon cancer screening. Polyps and other abnormalities in the colon can be detected before they develop into cancer with the use of screening procedures like fecal occult blood tests and colonoscopies, which should begin at age 50 (or earlier if you have heightened risk factors).
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption both increase the chance of developing cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, and should be avoided whenever possible.
Some studies suggest that taking aspirin regularly may lower one’s chances of developing colorectal cancers; however, consult with your doctor before starting any new medication regime.
In its early stages, colon cancer is both preventable and treatable. Knowing the causes, signs, and symptoms of this malignancy, as well as how to have it identified and treated, is crucial.
Those who have a higher risk of developing colon cancer owing to age, family history, or other health issues should have routine screenings. Early detection of colon cancer can increase the effectiveness of treatment and improve survival rates.
To cut down on your chances of getting colon cancer, keep in mind that prevention is key. Reducing your risk of contracting this fatal disease is as simple as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, giving up smoking (if you are a smoker), and eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
Do not hesitate to consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health or potential hazards associated with colon cancer. Together, we can lessen colon cancer’s toll on our communities by providing effective treatment and prevention.