Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer | Colorectal Cancer

Colon Cancer

 The symptoms, cures and causes of Colon Cancer / Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum, anus, and appendix. It is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of death among cancers in the United States. Many colorectal cancers are thought to arise from polyps in the colon. These mushroom-like growths are usually benign, but some may develop into cancer over time.

Causes of Colon / Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a disease resulting from mutations in epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the known abnormalities involve the DNA which regulates cell growth.

Though many of these effects are well known, there are likely environmental, hereditary, and viral causes for specific cell defects.

Because the changes at the cell level may take years to develop into cancer, it is generally impossible to track the cause of specific cases of cancer. Thus efforts at prevention mostly focus on avoiding or identifying risk factors and early detection.

Risk Factors

Certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing the disease. These include:

Age. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age

History of cancer. Women who have had cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breast are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) carries 100% risk of developing cancer of the colon.

Long-standing colitis ulcerosa or other chronic inflammatory diseases, very high risk after 25 years. Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome.

Smoking. Smokers are more likely to die of colorectal cancer than non-smokers

Diet. Some studies have shown that people who have diets high in fresh fruit and vegetables and low in red meat are at reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Virus. Exposure to some viruses may be associated with colorectal cancer: Human_Papilloma_Virus.

Physical inactivity. People who are physically active are at lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

– Change in bowel habits.

– Blood in stools.

– Unexplained weight loss.

– symptoms of anemia including tiredness, malaise, pallor

Diagnostics, Screening and Monitoring

Colorectal cancer can take many years to develop and early detection of colorectal cancer greatly improves the chances of a cure. Therefore, screening for the disease is recommended in individuals who are at increased risk. There are several different tests available for this purpose.

Digital rectal exam (DRE): The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormal areas.

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A test for blood in the faeces.

Sigmoidoscopy: A lighted probe (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and other abnormalities.

Colonoscopy: A lighted probe called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and the entire colon to look for polyps and other abnormalities that may be caused by cancer. A colonoscopy has the advantage that if polyps are found during the procedure they can be immediately removed. Tissue can also be taken for biopsy.

Double contrast barium enema (DCBE): An enema containing barium, which helps the outline of the colon and rectum stand out on X-rays, is given to the patient. The doctor then takes a series of X-rays of the colon and rectum.

Computed axial tomography is used to determine the degree of spread of cancer. Though it is not generally used for screening, some cancers are found in CAT scans for other reasons

Blood tests: Measurement of the patients blood for elevated levels of certain proteins can give an indication of tumor load. In particular, high levels of carcinoembryonic antigen CEA in the blood can indicate metastasis of adenocarcinoma

Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

The treatment depends on the staging of the cancer. When colorectal cancer is caught at early stages (with little spread) it can be curable. However when it is detected at later stages (when distant metastases are present) it is less likely to be curable.

Surgery remains the primary treatment while chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be recommended depending on the individual patient’s staging and other medical factors.

** Surgery

Surgical treatment is by far the most likely to result in a cure of colon cancer if the tumor is localized. The procedure consists of removal of the section of colon containing the tumor leaving sufficient margins to reduce likelihood of re-growth.

If possible, the remaining parts of colon are anastomosed together to create a functioning colon. In cases when anastomosis is not possible, a stoma (artificial orifice) is created.

Surgery is generally not offered if significant metastasis are present. As with any surgical procedure, colorectal surgery can in rare cases result in complications. These may include Infection, Abscess, or Fistula.

** Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is used to kill tumor tissue before surgery or when surgery is not indicated. It is also used to sterilize the margins after surgery is performed. Sometimes chemotherapy agents are used to increase the effectiveness of radiation by sensitizing tumor cells if present.

** Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is used to reduce the likelihood of metastasis developing, shrink tumor size, or slow tumor growth. Chemotherapy often applied after surgery (adjuvant), before surgery (neo-adjuvant), or as the primary therapy if surgery is not indicated (palliative).

The treatments listed here have been shown in clinical trials to improve survival and/or reduce mortality and have been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

 

 

FAQ 

What are the early warning signs of colon cancer?

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool.

*Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool.

*Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.

*A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.

Can you survive colon cancer?

For colon cancer, the overall 5-year survival rate for people is 63%. If the cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage, the survival rate is 91%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 72%.

How do you get colon cancer?

Colon cancer develops when tumorous growths develop in the large intestine. It is now the third most common type of cancer in the United States. The colon, or large intestine, is where the body draws out water and salt from solid wastes. The waste then moves through the rectum and exits the body through the anus.

What do colon cancer poop look like?

Blood from in the bowel becomes dark red or black and can make poop stools look like tar. Such poop needs to be investigated further. Poop which is bright red may be a sign of colon cancer. Red poop may be seen in cancers of the lower intestine.

Can you have colon cancer for years and not know it?

Because early stages of colon cancer can go unnoticed for years, screening is important for early detection. It is generally recommended that individuals at average risk for colon cancer receive a screening test every 10 years.

How long can you live with untreated colon cancer?

The results showed the median survival of patients to be 24 months (range 16–42). One-year survival was found to be 65% while the 2-year survival was found to be 25%.

Is colon cancer curable at Stage 3?

stage III colon cancer has about a 40 percent chance of cure and a patient with a stage IV tumor has only a 10 percent chance of a cure. Chemotherapy is used after surgery in many colon cancers which are stage II, III, and IV as it has been shown that it increases the survival rates.

Is colon cancer curable at Stage 2?

Stage II adenocarcinoma of the colon is a common and curable cancer. Depending on features of the cancer, 60-75% of patients are cured without evidence of cancer recurrence following treatment with surgery alone.

What is the final stage of colon cancer?

Stage 4 colon cancer is late-stage cancer in which the disease has spread to other tissues or organs in the body and is, therefore, more difficult to treat. Treatment may only be partially successful, and cancer may be more likely to return after treatment.

Is there pain with colon cancer?

Colon cancer pain is generally felt as vague abdominal pain or cramps. The exact site of the pain may vary depending upon the part of the colon involved, the size of the tumor and the extent to which it has spread in the body (metastasis).

Can you feel colon cancer with your finger?

In this exam, your doctor will put his or her gloved finger into your rectum to feel for growths. It’s not painful. However, it can be uncomfortable.

Can you live a normal life after stage 3 colon cancer?

Quality of life (QoL) among patients in the first 3 years after diagnosis is generally decreased, although it may improve with time since diagnosis . Yet, many CRC survivors continue to live with long-term side effects of having had the cancer , especially related to its treatment.

How many stages of colon cancer are there?

There are five stages of colon cancer, starting at zero and going up to four. They are often written with the Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV. In general, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread.

How treatable is colon cancer?

Cancer of the colon is a highly treatable and often curable disease when localized to the bowel. Surgery is the primary form of treatment and results in cure in approximately 50% of the patients. Recurrence following surgery is a major problem and is often the ultimate cause of death.

How bad is stage 4 colon cancer?

Stage IV cancers don’t have a good prognosis as their relative survival rate for 5 years is about 11%. Colon cancer has four stages, with stage IV as the most severe stage because it means the cancer cells have spread (metastasized) to other organs like the liver (or lungs, lymph nodes, stomach or other organs).