Overview

Colon cancer is also known as Colorectal Cancer. When a person large intestine affected by the growth of the tumor is known as colon cancer. In the United States, it is considered as the third most common type of cancer. This cancer starts in the rectum or also known as the colon, which is an organ that is present in the lower portion of the digestive system.

Stages of Colon Cancer

It has been observed in a study that one in twenty-two men and one in twenty-four women are developing this type of cancer once in their lifetime. Your physician will assess the severeness of your problem by identifying the stage. Your doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you after knowing the stage of cancer. The earliest stage is considered as a stage one colorectal cancer. There are four stages in colorectal cancer or colon cancer. The fourth stage is considered as the most advanced stage. Following are the stages of colon cancer

Stage 1: The first stage is considered when cancer penetrated the lining of the colon but didn’t reach the organs which are present in the lower portion of the digestive system.

Stage 2: when cancer has reached the colon walls but yet to reach the lymph nodes is considered as the second stage of colorectal or colon cancer.

Stage 3: When the lymph nodes affected by cancer but haven’t spread to the other human body parts is considered as the third stage of colorectal or colon cancer.

Stage 4: If cancer has reached distant organs like the liver or lungs, then it is considered as the final stage of the colorectal or colon cancer.

Indicators of colon cancer

People don’t experience any symptoms when they are in the first stage of colorectal cancer but you will experience it later. Abdominal pain, constipation, cramping’s, loose stools, excessive gas, changes in stool color, bleeding from the rectum, blood in the stool, and experiencing changes in stool shape like narrowed stool are the common symptoms people usually experience during the early stages of their cancer. We would advise you to consult your doctor immediately when you notice these changes in your body or experiencing these symptoms.

Bone fractures, excessive fatigue, unable to see, unexplained weakness, chronic headaches, changes in your stool that last longer than a month, unable to breathe or shortness of breath, feeling like your bowels don’t empty, swelling in hands or feet, vomiting, and yellow eyes (Sign of jaundice) are the symptoms of late stages of colorectal symptoms. People experience these symptoms when colorectal cancer spreads the other parts of your body.

What are the types of colon cancer?

This type of colorectal cancer starts from adenocarcinomas. It has been observed that ninety-six percent of colon or colorectal cancer in the people is due to the adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are the biggest contributor to colorectal cancer to the people. Your doctor may rule out the other causes of your cancer if the cause is other than adenocarcinomas. It forms in the mucus cells in the colon or rectum.

What are the main causes of colorectal cancer?

The main cause of colorectal cancer remains unclear and researchers are still conducting experiments to know the exact cause of this type of cancer. There are lots of risk factors for this cancer and increase the chances of getting diagnosed with this type of cancer.

Precancerous growths

Polyps are a small, benign growth form due to the accumulation of the abnormal cells in the lining of the colon. Surgery is the best method to destroy these cells in the early stage of cancer. Because polyps can become dangerous if it’s left untreated.

Gene mutations

There are chances that you may get diagnosed with this type of cancer due to gene mutations. If one of your family members had diagnosed with colorectal cancer, then there are high chances of you may get this as well. Generally, it comes to a child from their parents. But these gene mutations are not the sole reason for colorectal cancer, but your chances of getting diagnosed with cancer are more.

What are the unavoidable and avoidable factors of colorectal cancer?

There are some factors can raise your chances of getting diagnosed with this type of cancer and these factors are categorized into two types. Unavoidable factors and avoidable factors.

Unavoidable factors are the factors that you cannot escape from this type of cancer. For instance, age. If you are above of age of fifty, then it will increase your chances of getting diagnosed with colorectal or colon cancer. Having a family history of colorectal cancer, a prior history of bowel diseases and colon polyps are the other unavoidable factors of colorectal cancer.

Avoidable factors are something that you can put a little effort to avoid it and this means you change it during a course of time. Being overweight, intake of highly processed foods or red meats, smoking, having a sedentary life, heavy drinking, and type 2 diabetes are considered as the avoidable factors of colorectal or colon cancer.

How to diagnose this type of cancer?

Diagnosing this condition early can increase your chances of getting out of it. Due to this reason, we would advise people to consult their healthcare provider as fast as they observe the symptoms in their bodies. Your physician may ask you for some information regarding your food eating habits and your family history of colorectal cancer. Your doctor may recommend a physical exam for you. It involves putting too much on your abdomen in order to detect the lumps or polyps.

Blood tests

In order to find out the cause of the symptoms that you are experiencing, your healthcare provider may run some blood tests. There is no specific test to determine this type of cancer. But doctors rule out other diseases and disorders by doing some blood tests such as

  • Liver function tests
  • Complete blood count (CBC)

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy can provide the necessary information to determine your condition. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a long tube into your colon by attaching a small camera onto it and with the help of a camera, they will check anything unusual happening in your colon and rectum.

During this procedure, the tissue will be removed from the abnormal area, and then these tissue samples will be sent to the lab for testing.

X-ray

X-ray is also an effective way to determine your condition. Your physician forms a liquid with the help of metallic element barium in the radioactive contrast solution then it will be sent into your bowel by using an enema. In order to get the best quality x-ray images, the lining of the colon will be coated by the barium solution.

Computed tomography scan

In order to get a clear image of your colon, your physician may recommend a computed tomography scan. It is also called a virtual colonoscopy.

How to treat this type of cancer?

A lot of factors come into play while deciding your treatment plan. Your physician will also check your overall health and the stage of your colorectal cancer.

Surgery

There is a possibility of removing cancerous polyps through surgery during the initial stage of cancer. If the wall of the bowels is not attached by the polyps then you will likely have a tremendous outlook.

If cancer has reached the wall of the bowels, then it will be necessary for your physician to remove a portion of the colon or rectum. If there are any lymph nodes, your physician will also remove it along with the colon or rectum during the surgery. If there are changes, your physician may try to reattach the healthy portion of the colon to the rectum.

If the above procedure is not possible, then your surgeon may perform a colostomy. Your abdominal wall will be opened to remove the waste during this surgical procedure.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy medications are used to kill cancer cells. This therapy provides relief to the patients by killing the cancer cells. It is a normal procedure after surgery to the people who are undergone cancer treatment. Chemotherapy will be very helpful as it will destroy the remaining cancerous cells left untreated during the surgical procedure. It has the capability of slowing the growth of tumors.

People may experience some side effects during therapy. We would advise you to consult your healthcare provider when you are experiencing any side effects during chemotherapy. For the people, who are suffering from late-stage colorectal cancer, may get some relief in chemotherapy.

Radiation

Radiation is the best treatment option to treat colorectal cancer. It involves using a powerful beam of energy to abolish the cancerous cells before and after surgery. People who are taking chemotherapy may also become a part of this treatment plan.

Medication

In the United States, a drug called stivarga approved by the food and drug administration to treat this type of cancer. If the patient does not respond to other forms of treatment, then doctors recommend this drug to their patients. This medication can slow down the growth of cancer cells by blocking enzymes in the body.

Conclusion

People need to worry when they diagnosed with this colorectal cancer. There are numerous treatment options available to treat this condition. If this condition caught early, then it will become easy for your physician to cure it quickly. That is why you need to consult your physician when you are experiencing the symptoms of the colon or colorectal cancer.

References

  1. https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-020-06887-1
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsomega.9b04390
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