Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is a disease characterized by the development of malignant cells in the lining of the first and longest portion of the large intestine. These cells have lost the normal control mechanism for growth. It is also termed as colorectal cancer because in time it can affect the rectum too. The rectum is the continuation of the large intestine into the pelvis that terminates in the anus.
The Causes and Symptoms
Primarily, there are two causes of colon cancer: the sporadic case and the genetic case. Exposure to the carcinogenic agents in the environment constitutes the sporadic case. It can induce mutation, and in time, it can also turn into a cancer. Specific carcinogens for colon cancer are still unidentified, but they can be narrowed down to the dietary factors of the person. Some of the probable causes of colon cancer include:
1) Diets that are high in fat and alcohol can predispose people to this disease.
2) Age and smoking habits of the person. A person over the age of 50 is more likely to have the disease than those who are under 50. Smoking individuals have risks too.
3) Patients who suffer from inflammatory diseases of the colon like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s colitis also have increased risks.
4) Genetics like familial cases are also factors that help spread the disease.
Symptoms of colon cancer are related to the release of bowel and wastes of the affected person. They may occur alone or in combination. These symptoms are as follows:
1) Change in the bowel habit of the affected person
2) Blood in the stool
3) Bloating or persistent abdominal distention
4) Constant constipation
5) Feeling of fullness after just having a bowel movement
6) Presence of ribbon stools
7) Persistent and chronic fatigue and anemia
8) Abdominal discomfort
9) Unexplained weight loss, resulting from a systemic disease
10) Nausea and vomiting, which can occur rarely
The Treatments Available
Treatment of the colon cancer first depends on the stage of the cancer. It can be curable when caught at an early stage, but if detected at later stages, when metastases are present, it is less likely to be curable. Up until now, surgery is still the primary treatment of colon cancer. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy or the combination of both may be recommended on the patient, depending on their cancer’s stage and other medical factors. It can also be a challenge to determine how aggressive the treatment for the patient is because this type of cancer primarily affects the elderly; it is rare for young people to develop this disease. Some elderly people are not recommended for chemotherapy after the surgery because it can have ill effects on their health.
These are among the summarized treatments of colon cancer that are practiced today:
1) Surgery in the colon area
3) Radiation therapy
5) Vaccine for colon cancer
6) Treatment of liver metastases that can spread to the colon area
7) Support therapies