What is Colon Cancer?
The colon is the final part of the digestive system of the human body. Cancer that occurs in this part is known as Colon Cancer. Colon cancer generally affects senior citizens and older adults, but we need to keep in mind that these days, it can happen at any age. They usually begin as small and non-cancerous lumps of cells inside the colon and then these lumps that are also called polyps become colon cancers. These polyps can be small, but they can be dangerous.
Hence, the doctors suggest that there are multiple and regular tests that need to be done so that necessary steps can be taken to prevent colon cancer as much as possible. If the doctors find the polyps , they cut them off before they turn into cancerous cells. If by chance, there is colon cancer possibility, then there are quite a few treatments that can help control cancer. There are a few prevention tips too.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
You can have a change in the way your bowel movements happen. You can have frequent diarrhea or constipation. Or there can be a change in the consistency of the stool. When you are passing the stool, rectal bleeding can also happen. The persistent abdominal pain all the time like gas or cramps can also be one of the symptoms. Always feeling weak and having constant fatigue can be a possible way of saying that something is wrong with the colon. If you are undergoing rapid weight loss too, you need to consult the doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of Colon Cancer
Doctors can never be sure what might cause colon cancers. But they are caused when the healthy cells in the colon area have mutations in their DNA. The cell’s DNA has a set of instructions and when this goes awry, they divide in an uncontrolled manner and form the tumor. With time, these cancer cells grow so much that they try and invade the normal tissues near the affected area. These cells can travel to any part of the body and form their own deposits. That is when they say cancer has spread.
Risk Factors of Colon Cancer
There are certain risk factors as to why colon cancer can be caused. Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:
1. Older age
2. A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
3. Inflammatory intestinal conditions
4. Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk
5. Family history of colon cancer
6. Low-fiber, high-fat diet
7. A sedentary lifestyle
11. Heavy use of Alcohol
12. Radiation therapy for cancer
Diagnosis of Colon Cancer
Well, first there is screening. There are a few screening tests that are to be done where they can look for non-cancerous colon polyps. Even if they find the cancer at an early stage, then it can provide an opportunity for cure. Screening regularly has been one of the best proven ways to help you cure the cancer problem. It substantially reduces the risk of dying due to colon cancer. Now, people who are of 50 years and above need to go for regular tests and then if there is any history of colon cancer, then screening is a must!
Fecal occult blood test, Fecal DNA test , colonoscopy , virtual colonoscopy etc are some of the screening tools for colon cancer .
Treatment of Colon Cancer
Depending on different colon cancer stages, the treatment is planned. The earliest stage is where the cancer is contained, and the advanced stage is where the cancer has spread.
If cancer has been detected early, then there can be a surgery where they remove the tumour and other polyps during the colonoscopy. They can also use endoscopic mucosal resection to remove the tumor.
If the cancer is a little more advanced, then a partial colectomy would be needed. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the part of the colon having the cancer, and also a margin of normal tissue on either side of cancer. This can be done by using a laparoscopy. They may also create an ostomy where they create a way for the waste to leave the body.
If the stage is advanced, then you need to undergo chemotherapy that destroys cancer cells using drugs. They can also use radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells.
There are a few ways of preventing colon cancer. Doctors recommend that people with a risk of having colon cancer need to frequently visit the hospital to get regular checks done. If you are especially about the age of 50, then you need to so it. If there is a family history of colon cancer, then you need to get the screening done sooner.
There are a lot of screening options and you can weigh in the pros and cons of each screening method. Discuss with your doctor for the best possible method. There are several lifestyle changes that can help you reduce the risk of cancer and they are:
● Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Stay away from chemically grown fruits and vegetables. Also, go for whole grains that contain multivitamins and antioxidants and fiber so that they can combine to prevent colon cancer. Go for a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you can receive a variety of nutrients and fiber
● Do not smoke or drink. You can drink in moderation, but you need to seriously limit the amount of alcohol you take in. Do not have more than one drink on a day. As for smoking, that should not become a habit at all and try quitting it as soon as possible.
● No matter what the occasion is, do not skip doing exercise. Try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise no matter what. Consult your doctor before you get any exercise.
● Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
There are a lot of other ways to treat cancer like immunotherapy or supportive care but they are only used when chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not used. If you are undergoing palliative care, then you are opting for a good quality of life despite cancer. Stay healthy and eat healthy to conquer your battle with cancer.