What is Colon Cancer? – Symptoms – Diagnosis – Treatment

The incidence of colon cancer increases as the population age but it is also moderately common with young adults. The earlier it is seen and diagnosed, the sooner the treatment can begin. Early treatment can save your life, so it important for you to learn to identify the typical symptoms and signs of colon cancer and how to screen for it.

This symptoms of colon cancer should not be overlooked or mistaken with other lower digestive tract disorders. This cancer can progress from the colon to the rectum. It is considered to be a hidden disorder but can slowly kill you in the long run of the disease. The disease is said to be hidden because at its early stage it is typically asymptomatic.

What is Cancer?

Cancer consists of abnormal cells in the body which can affect the basic unit of the life which is the cell, the unit that started it all. A cell maybe the smallest unit in the body but without its presence no organs and systems will be formed. They are the building blocks of the human anatomy.

In this case, the disruption of the normal cell function is possible because cancer cells have the ability to rapidly divide itself without order and control. This disrupts homeostasis in a person’s body because the division of cells usually only occurs when the body needs it. As the cancer cells rapidly divide, a mass type of tissue or a tumor is produced, may it be malignant or benign. Tumors that are benign are not cancer. This type of growth can be removed through surgeries and usually don’t recur after its removal; it doesn’t spread to any other parts of the body and it is often not life threatening.

Malignant tumors are cancerous cells that damage and invade organs and tissues adjacent to it. It can also break its way from being a tumor and eventually introduces itself to the lymphatic system and bloodstream. For this reason, cancer cells can easily spread to other parts of the body especially to the highly vascularized organs. The term for the spread of cancer  is called metastasis. If cancer cells invade the colon and the rectum, colorectal cancer symptoms will start to appear.

What are the Causes of Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is not a contagious disease which means that you can’t catch it by just having a personal contact with a cancer patient. Researches have proven that a portion of the human population has the higher likelihood to develop Colorectal Cancer Symptoms. The causes of its occurrence associate to high fat ingestion, family record of Colon Cancer Diagnosis and chronic ulcerative colitis.

A diet with high fat intake will predispose a person to colon cancer because of the fat metabolism product breakdown can lead to the development of carcinogens or cancer causing chemicals. Diets that are high in fiber such as vegetables and fruits may liberate the bowel from these carcinogenic materials.

Polyps of the colon can progress to colon cancer; therefore the removal of these polyps can prevent the Symptoms Colon Cancer from occuring. They can be initially benign but over the years, it can acquire a supplementary chromosome to become cancer cells.

Ulcerative colitis can establish a complication like cancer on chronic cases. The rise of colorectal cancer can increase its risk when the condition is already at its eight to tenth year of incidence. Genetic factors have been strongly proven to increase the risk of having colon cancer especially among the first degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients. The types of colon cancer that have the familial aspect as its risk factors are Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (AFAP), Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC) and MYH Polyposis Syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer can manifest itself in numerous ways. A person can be on an asymptomatic phase during its early stage. As the disease worsens, the patient can show signs of hemorrhage from the rectum or blood in the stool (hematochesia). With only the sign, the diagnosis of the disease is often overlooked as other disorder such as hemorrhoids.For prolonged rectal bleeding, the outcome is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia can be associated to the patient’s symptoms of pale skin and fatigue.

The tumor can partially or entirely block the colon as the tumor enlarges and other symptoms may come about such as abdominal distension, abdominal pain due to perforation of bowel and peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum), unexplained unrelenting nausea and vomiting, inexplicable weight loss, change in character or frequency of stool, ribbon like stools, tenesmus or the sensation defecating even after bowel movements and rectal pain which rarely happens and can indicate a huge tumor located at the rectum that obstruct the passage of stools.

Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Colon cancer diagnosis comprises of a series of tests that will confirm the existence of cancer.

Cancer of the rectum and colon for the most part is adenocarcinoma cells that arise from the epithelial coating of the intestine. It may commence as a benign polyp which may then become a malignant one that can invade and damage normal tissues and metastasize to adjacent organs. Cancer cells can transfer away from the prime tumor to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system.

What are the Gereontologic Considerations for Colon Cancer Diagnosis?

Colon cancer symptoms has a high incidence in geriatric patients. The incidence of this disease increases as we age. Symptoms of colon cancer are often menacing. The primarily cause of fatigue is iron deficiency anemia which is due to a long term hemorrhage in the affected area. In early phases, intermittent bleeding and slight changes in the bowel patterns may occur. The late symptoms are obstruction, abdominal pain rectal bleeding and tenesmus.

Dietary carcinogens are the linked cause of cancer of the colon in geriatric patients. The lack of fiber is a foremost causative aspect for the reason that the fecal movement in the intestines are prolonged which lengthens the exposure to carcinogenic agents. High alcohol consumption, smoking and excessive dietary fat intake increase the prevalence of colorectal cancer symptoms. Dietary folate and physical activity have shielding effects.

There are major apprehensions for geriatric patients during diagnostic procedures and treatment such as aging and limiting the clinical trials on them. Aging is the gradual loss in function or physical reserve capacity through time. With this reason, co-morbidity may not endure chemotherapeutic agents and diagnostic procedures such as surgeries. Limiting clinical trials should be implemented because it will decrease the toxicity effect of drugs and procedures to geriatric patients.

How is Colon Cancer Diagnosis Done?

If colon cancer symptoms are present then you might consider seeing a physician and undergoing diagnostic examinations to confirm or rule out the disease. A Digital Rectal Exam is performed to palpate the lining of the patient’s rectum for presence of polyps or an irregular mass. It is executed by inserting a gloved finger to the patient’s anus to the rectum.

Colonoscopy is a type of endoscopic test that visualizes the colon by inserting a flexible, thin plastic tube with a small camera on the end via the opening of the anus. The camera projects the images of the colon to a monitor. Before the procedure, the patient is instructed not to eat or drink anything and is required to take laxative preparations that will clear the colon of the fecal matter.

Barium enema can be constituted with X-ray to have a clearer image of the tumor in the colon. Barium will be introduced in the colon passing through the anus using an enema. It is a radioactive contrast which is a medium to provide clearer results. Air contrast Barium enema can be effective to identify malignant tumors. However, this type of enema won’t be able to detect small tumors or those located on the far end of the colon.

The patient can undergo Chest X-ray and CT scan of the abdomen to make certain that the Cancer cells didn’t metastasize to other organs. Blood test for Carcinoembyonic Antigen (CEA) can as well be taken because it is the substance formed by cancer cells and its presence in the blood will confirm the diagnosis.

What are the Treatments for Colon Cancer?

The most common management for colon cancer is surgery. In this procedure, a small rid of the adjacent healthy bowel, the tumor, nearby lymph nodes are detached. The surgeon afterwards reconnects the sections of the bowel that are healthy. If the patient’s rectum is severely affected, the the rectum is removed. The surgeon will then create a colostomy or an opening of the abdominal wall for the excretion of solid wastes or fecal matter. There are special considerations to this type of patients. The survival rate of cancer patients also increase after this procedure.

In some instances, when the cancer cells has already penetrate itself to the wall of the colon or to the adjacent tissues and lymph nodes to the affected area, then the risk of the tumor to recur increases. Chemotherapy is introduced in adjunction with surgery to improve the likelihood of the patient’s survival. It is the utilization of medications to eradicate the cancer cells in the body. It is a general therapy that spreads all throughout the human structure to kill abnormal cells. This procedure is executed subsequent to surgery. This is also called as Adjuvant Therapy.

After manifesting colon cancer symptoms and undergoing colon cancer diagnosis, treatments introduce such as Radiation Therapy. This can decrease the local reappearance of colon cancer prior and after surgery. The side effects of this procedure are skin irritation on the affected area, hair loss at the pelvic area and fatigue.

How is Colorectal Cancer Prevented?

Colon cancer symptoms can be prevented effectively by early detection and elimination of the precancerous part of the colon before it progress to cancer. Symptoms of colon cancer can be prevented as well even in the cancerous phase. However, the prevention already lies on the tertiary level. Early recognition of cancer can significantly advance the probability of cure by surgery, chemotherapy and other therapies.

See the article: How to Prevent it from Colon Cancer When Grilling Meat: 5 Ways

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