Colon Cancer

Overview

Colon is the lowest part of the digestive system and most commonly cancerous cell develops on the inner lining of the colon wall. The colon has a function of absorbing water and salt from solid wastes while moving through the rectum and exits the body. Colon cancer is the uncontrolled cell growth which happens in the cells of the large intestine.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer often occur together and are called colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors

  • A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Although there are very few known risk factors for gastrointestinal stromal tumors, the following are risk factors that may attribute tumor growth:
  • Older age: Although it can occur in younger adults, the likelihood of developing the disease rises significantly among people over the age of 50
  • Personal history of developing colorectal polyps
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Family history
  • Inherited gene defects known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer(HNPCC)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diets high in red meats such as beef, lamb or liver and cooking food at very high temperatures such as frying, broiling or grilling
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

Symptoms

The patients with colon cancer experience symptoms usually in the early stages then other and include

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in stool consistency
  • Narrow stools
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Pain, cramps, or gas in the abdomen
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Continual urges to defecate
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Iron deficiency

Diagnosis

The doctors at American oncology institute may do a complete physical exam as well as personal and family medical histories followed by colonoscopy or a barium enema x-ray to confirm diagnosis.

Colonoscopy is a procedure where a long flexible tube with camera on one end is inserted to inspect the inside of the colon, if some abnormal tissues are found they are removed and sent to pathologist for biopsy to detect any cancer.

Barium Enema is a procedure in which liquid solution containing barium element is injected into colon through rectum followed by an x-ray of the colon and rectum is taken to detect tumors and polyps.

Treatment Options

Treatment of colon cancer depends on the type of cancer, stage of cancer, age, health status and other important additional personal characteristics. Most common options for colon cancer are surgery chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Surgery is done in some cases of colon cancer to remove part or entire colon is called colectomy. In some cases nearby lymph nodes are also usually removed depending spread of the cancer tissues.

Chemotherapy is given in which chemicals or medications that interfere with the cell division process damaging proteins or DNA so that cancerous cells are damaged and die. The chemotherapy treatments are given in cycles so that the body has the time to heal in between the doses.

Radiation is given in cases of colon cancer at American oncology institute in which radiation is given focusing high energy rays on the cancer cells causing damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells to prevent their further growth.