Colon Cancer Explained with Pictures and Graphics
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine or colon which is located at the lower section of the digestive system and should not be interchanged with rectal or anal cancer. To be more precise, colon is the first four to five feet of the large intestine while the last six inches are the rectum and anal canal. The canal ends at the opening of the large intestine to the outer part of the body also called anus. Together, colon and rectal cancer are usually referred to as colorectal cancer.
Most cancer of the colon start as a small, benign or noncancerous cell clumps known as adenomatous polyps. If left undetected, some of the polyps become cancers. Doctors highly recommend screening tests on regular basis to identify polyps and prevent them from becoming cancer. Early detection lets a patient enjoy a longer life. Taking the five-year survival rate, 90% of patients with cancer detected at a local stage have gone beyond five years. The rate drops to 69% with cancer at a regional stage. If the cancer has already spread, then only 12% of the patients will be able to reach the five-year survival target.
Foods high in cholesterol and fat have been connected to escalate the risk of colon cancer. According to American Cancer Society’s estimate, about 142,820 people will be detected with colon cancer (and rectal cancer) in 2013 and around 50,830 will die from the disease in America. There is one in twenty individuals who will likely to have the cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Like most types of cancer, colon cancer does not show any symptoms at early stages. There are also times when the signs are all pointing to the said cancer but the patient usually ignores the possibility. Colon and anal cancer often have the same signs and symptoms and most of the time they come together and they are called colorectal cancer.
The symptoms include pain in the lower part of your abdominal area; diarrhea for more than several days; change in stool’s consistency; notable change in bowel habits; there’s abdominal pain whenever you have bowel movement; narrow stools; cramps and gas pain; a feeling that the bowel does not completely clear out; presence of abdominal mass or there is hardness in the belly; presence of blood in the stool or there’s rectal bleeding; anemia; and mysterious weight loss.
Risk Factors and Prevention
There are many things that can pave way to cancer of the colon and among them are diets rich in fats; obesity; processed or red meat; family history of the said disease; drinking too much alcohol; age; and smoking. These risk factors can be easily prevented except family history and age, but you can do something about it to keep the disease under control or not let it into your life.
Your immediate action can spare your life. The moment you noticed the symptoms don’t hesitate to visit your doctor. Nothing is better than an ounce of prevention.
Whether you like or not, age is something that no one can prevent from adding. 90% of people that were found to possess colon cancer are those with age 50 years and up. Regular screening is a must when you are in your golden age already in order to prevent the cancer from manifesting.
Eat a balanced diet and keep regular exercise in order to maintain the right weight – follow this and you are some few steps away from contacting the disease.
Know your family medical history and try genetic counseling. You should discuss everything with your doctor so that he or she will be able to help you. Ask for recommendations if you need to see a different specialist for some reasons.
Avoid smoking and refrain from drinking alcohol beyond what is considered minimal and normal. If you think you will not be able to stop once you started, then don’t spark anything that will lead you to drinking too much – stay away from alcoholic drinks.
Ways to Analyze the Cancer
– FOBT or Fecal Occult Blood Test is a test that checks for possible presence of blood in the stool because polyps can bleed. Sample stool is tested for traces of blood and if the test is positive, then expect more tests to come in order to pinpoint the real cause of such occurrence.
– Colonoscopy is probably the most popular where the rectum is examined as well as the entire colon using colonoscope (a lighted tool or instrument). It makes it possible for the doctor to see the whole colon. If the doctor detected a polyp, he or she may remove it. If there is abnormality, then a biopsy might be needed wherein a small piece of tissue is gathered through the colonoscope. The sample will be sent to the laboratory to be analyzed.
– Virtual colonoscopy can be compared to a super x-ray dedicated for the colon. Air is pumped into the colon to expand it then followed by a special CT scan.
Colon cancer treatment may use radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy – depending on the stage of the cancer. Some might need combinations of treatments in order to get the favorable results.
Surgery is the most typical treatment for this kind of cancer. A malignant polyp may be removed using colonoscope provided that it is still small. For larger cancer, the surgeon needs to make an incision and then remove the problem. The doctor will also check nearby areas if there are still other affected parts. The doctor will discuss the procedure with you first prior to the operation.
Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to attack the problematic cells and eliminate them. The patient can have it alone or with other treatments. Chemo before surgery or neoadjuvant therapy may shrink a big tumor. Chemotherapy after a surgery is called adjuvant therapy and it is used to destroy left over cancer cells and prevent it from spreading.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to eliminate the problem. It is a local therapy and that means it only affects cancer cells in the treated area.
Research and studies are still ongoing to find the best solution and cure for colon cancer. In this modern day and age nothing is impossible anymore.