By Medicover Hospitals / 22 Feb 2021
- Treatment Options
- Frequently Asked Questions
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the gastrointestinal tract. Colon cancer usually affects older people, but it may happen at any age. It typically starts as small, non-cancer (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that develop within the colon. Any of these polyps may become colon cancers over time. Polyps can be small and can produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, physicians prescribe regular screening tests to help avoid colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they develop into cancer. Many treatments are available to help manage colon cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, and drug therapy, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Colon cancer is often referred to as colorectal cancer and is a term that blends cancer of the colon with rectal cancer that begins in the rectum.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as gas, pain, or cramps
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexpected weight loss
Many people with colon cancer show no symptoms in the early stages of the illness. Once signs occur, they are likely to differ based on the size of the cancer and the location of the large intestine.
There are various ways to assign a stage to cancer. The phases show how much cancer has spread and the scale of any tumor. The stages in colon cancer are:
1.Stage 0:Also known as carcinoma in situ, cancer is at a very early stage at this point. It has not developed further than the inner layer of the colon and is typically simple to handle.
2.Stage 1:Cancer has spread into the next layer of tissue but has not entered the lymph nodes or any other organ.
3.Stage 2:Cancer has entered the outer layers of the intestine but has not expanded beyond the colon.
4.Stage 3:Cancer has spread into the outer layers of the colon, reaching one or three lymph nodes. However, it did not spread to distant sites.
5.Stage 4:Cancer reached other tissues outside the wall of the colon. When step 4 develops, the cancer of the colon reaches distant parts of the body.
Doctors are not exactly what causes most cancers of the colon. Colon cancer usually starts as healthy cells in the colon undergo differences (mutations) in their DNA. The DNA of a cell includes a series of instructions that tell a cell what to do. Healthy cells expand and divide in an organized manner to keep the body functioning properly. But when the DNA of a cell is weakened and becomes cancerous, the cells begin to divide even when new cells are not required. As the cells accumulate, the tumor is created. In time, cancer cells may expand to invade and kill normal tissue. And cancer cells may migrate to other parts of the body and create deposits there (metastasis).
Treatment will depend on the type and stage of cancer of the colon. The doctor will also take into account the age, general health status, and other features of the client when deciding on the best care choice. There is no single cure for any form of cancer. The most popular options for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The aim of the procedure would be to remove cancer, avoid its spread and reduce any adverse effects
Surgery is termed a colectomy to remove part or more of the colon. During this operation, a surgeon may remove the part of the colon that contains cancer, as well as any of the adjacent areas. For eg, nearby lymph nodes are typically eliminated to reduce the chance of spread. The surgeon either reattach the healthy part of the colon or produces a stoma, based on the degree of the colectomy.
The cancer treatment staff will prescribe medication that interacts with the mechanism of cell division during chemotherapy. They do this by damaging proteins or DNA and destroying cancer cells. These therapies target all rapidly dividing cells, including healthy ones. This will typically recover from any chemotherapy-induced injury, but cancer cells cannot recover. A cancer specialist or oncologist will typically prescribe chemotherapy to cure cancer of the colon if it spreads. Medicines migrate all over the body, and therapy can take place in stages, so the body has time to heal between doses.
Radiation treatment destroys cancer cells by focusing on high-energy gamma rays. The cancer treatment team can use external radiation therapy to remove these rays from a system outside the body. With internal radiation, the doctor can inject radioactive materials near the cancer site in the shape of a seed. Any metals, such as radium, are emitting gamma rays. Radiation may also come from high-energy x-rays. A doctor can request radiation therapy as a standalone treatment to minimize the tumor or to kill cancer cells. It can also be beneficial in addition to other cancer therapies. In the case of colon cancer, cancer treatment teams tend not to perform radiation treatment until the later stages. They can be used if early-stage rectal cancer has penetrated the wall of the rectum or has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
The physician will perform a complete physical examination and inquire for personal and family medical records. The following diagnostic methods can also be used to identify and stage cancer:
A long, flexible tube with a camera would be inserted into the rectum at one end to examine the interior of the colon. A person will have to observe a special diet for 24–48 hours prior to the operation. The colon would also need washing with heavy laxatives in a method known as intestinal preparation. If the doctor detects polyps in the colon, the surgeon will cut the polyps and send them to the biopsy. In a biopsy, a pathologist tests the polyps under a microscope for cancer or precancerous cells. A related technique, called versatile sigmoidoscopy, helps a surgeon to view a smaller part of the colorectal region. The approach requires less planning. Often, a complete colonoscopy may not be appropriate if the sigmoidoscopy does not show polyps or if the polyps are found within a small area.
2.Double-Contrast Barium Enema:
This X-ray technique uses a liquid called barium to offer better images of the colon than normal X-rays. An individual must fast for a few hours before he or she undergoes a barium X-ray. The doctor will administer a liquid solution containing the barium ingredient into the colon through the rectum. They follow this with a quick pumping of air through the barium substrate to produce the most accurate results. The x-ray of the colon and the rectum will be done by the radiologist. The barium shows white on the X-ray, and any tumors and polyps present as black outlines. If a biopsy shows the existence of colon cancer, a doctor may prescribe an X-ray of the chest, an ultrasound, or a CT scan of the lungs, liver, and abdomen to determine the spread of cancer. Upon diagnosis, the doctor will assess the stage of cancer depending on the size and magnitude of the tumor, as well as the distribution of surrounding lymph nodes and distant organs. The level of cancer will assess the treatment options and advise the outlook.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid colon cancer. However, some prevention steps include the following:
1.Maintaining a healthy weight
3.Eating lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
4.Limiting the consumption of saturated fat and red meat
5.People should also consider limiting their intake of alcohol and avoiding smoking.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Usually, if a potential colorectal cancer is identified by some screening or medical procedure, it is biopsied during a colonoscopy. In a biopsy, the doctor removes a small slice of tissue with a special system that goes through the area of operation. Less often, part of the colon can need to be separated by surgery to make a diagnosis.
No blood test will tell you whether you have colon cancer. But your doctor can test your blood for signs of your overall health, such as kidney and liver function tests. Your doctor can even test the blood for a chemical that is often caused by cancer of the colon (carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA)
Colon cancer is most often transmitted to the liver, but it may also spread to other sites such as the lungs, brain, peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), or distant lymph nodes. In most cases, surgery is not able to treat these tumors.
While not adopted as a first-choice screening technique for colorectal cancer, routine abdominal ultrasound can detect even unsuspected colonic tumors, particularly in the ascending colon. Although the accuracy of the ultrasound is potentially limited, X-ray and/or endoscopy should be confirmed for diagnosis.
Colorectal cancer occurs when DNA in cells in the colon or rectum produces mutations that may make them unable to regulate growth and division. In certain cases, these mutant cells are destroyed or attacked by the immune system.