colon cancer : definition,symptoms and treatment

Colon Cancer : Definition, Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

(Last Updated On: March 19, 2018)

What Is Colon Cancer ?

Colon Cancer Definition = Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), that is the final part of your digestive tract.

Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells known as adenomatous polyps.

Over time some of these polyps will become colon cancers.

Polyps could also be small and produce few if any, symptoms.

For this reason, doctors suggest regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become cancer.

American Cancer Society’s Predict 97,220 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2018.

What is the Function of Colon ?

colon cancer
Picture of colon

The colon – formerly known as the large intestine but now commonly called the colon – is a component of the digestive system, that is a series of bodily organs starting at the mouth and ending with the anus

Colon Cancer Facts

♦ Colon cancer is the 2nd leading reason for cancer death among men and women combined in the united states.

♦ 1 in 20 individuals is diagnosed with colon cancer.

♦ 1 in 3 individuals is not up-to-date with colon cancer screening.

♦ 3 million people haven’t been screened for colon cancer.

♦ 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented with screening.

♦ 25% of individuals diagnosed with colon cancer have a family history.


There are usually no symptoms in the earliest stages, however, symptoms might develop as the cancer advances.

Here are Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

♦ A change in your bowel habits, together with diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your

♦ stool, that lasts longer than four weeks

♦ rectal bleeding or blood in your stool

♦ Persistent abdominal discomforts, like cramps, gas or pain

♦ a sense that your bowel does not empty completely

♦ Weakness or fatigue

♦ Unexplained weight loss

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

when symptoms appear, they will possibly vary, depending on cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.

Causes And Risk Factors

Normally, body cells follow an orderly process of growth, division, and death. Cancer happens when cells grow and divide uncontrollably, without dying.

Most colon cancer originates from noncancerous, or benign, tumors known as adenomatous polyps that form on the inner walls of the large intestine.

Cancerous cells could spread from malignant tumors to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

These cancer cells can grow and invade healthy tissue nearby and throughout the body, in a process called metastasis. The result is a more serious, less treatable condition.

The exact causes are unknown, however, colon cancer has many potential risk factors.

Factors that will raise your risk of colon cancer Are:

Older age : the large majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50.colon cancer can occur in younger people, however, it happens much less frequently.

African-American race : African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races.
a personal history of Colon cancer.If you’ve already had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, you have a higher risk of colon cancer in the future.

Inflammatory intestinal conditions : Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, will increase your risk of colon cancer.

Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk : Genetic syndromes passed through generations of your

Family will increase your risk of colon cancer : These syndromes include familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, that is also called lynch syndrome.

The family history of colon cancer : you are more probably to develop colon cancer if you have a parent, sibling or kid with the disease. If more than one family member has colon cancer or rectal cancer, your risk is even bigger.

Low-fiber, high-fat diet : colon cancer and rectal cancer is also related to a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories. research in this area has had mixed results.Some studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in those who eat diets high in red meat and processed meat.

A sedentary lifestyle : If you are inactive, you are more probably to develop colon cancer. getting regular physical activity could cut back your risk of colon cancer.

Diabetes : people with diabetes and insulin resistance have an increased risk of colon cancer.

Obesity : those who are weighty have an increased risk of colon cancer and an increased risk of dying of colon cancer when compared with individuals considered normal weight.

Smoking : people who smoke could have an increased risk of colon cancer.

Alcohol : heavy use of alcohol will increase your risk of colon cancer.

Radiation therapy for cancer : radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers will increase the chance of colon and rectal cancer.


Get screened for colon cancer

People with a medium risk of colon cancer can consider screening starting at age 50. however, people with an enhanced risk, like those with a family history of colon cancer, ought to consider screening sooner.

Several screening options exist — every with its own advantages and disadvantages. talk about your choices together with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you.

Make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk

You can take actions to reduce your risk of colon cancer by making changes in your daily life. Take steps to:

Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains : Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which can play a role in cancer prevention. select a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get an array of vitamins and nutrients.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all : If you select to drink alcohol, limit the quantity of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and 2 for men.

Stop smoking : ask your doctor about ways to quit which will work for you.

Exercise most days of the week : try and get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you’ve been inactive, begin slowly and build up step by step to 30 minutes. Also, ask your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Maintain a healthy weight : If you’re at a healthy weight, work to maintain your weight by combining a healthy

diet with daily exercise : If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy ways to achieve your goal. Aim to lose weight slowly by increasing the amount of exercise you get and reducing the number of calories you eat.

Colon cancer prevention for people with a high risk

Some medications are found to reduce the danger of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. However, not enough proof exists to suggest these medications to those who have an average risk of colon cancer.

These choices are usually reserved for people with a high risk of colon cancer.

For instance, some proof links a reduced risk of polyps and colon cancer to regular use of aspirin or aspirin-like medicine.

however, it isn’t clear what does and what length of time would be required to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Taking aspirin daily has some risks, together with gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, thus doctors usually do not suggest this as a prevention strategy unless you have an increased risk of colon cancer.


A physician can do a complete physical exam and raise about personal and family medical histories.

Diagnosis is usually made after the colonoscopy or a barium enema x-ray.


A long, flexible tube with a camera on one end is inserted into the rectum to examine the inside of the colon.

The patient could need to follow a special diet for 24 to 48 hours before the procedure.

The colon also will need cleansing with strong laxatives, a process known as bowel prep.

If polyps are detected in the colon, they are removed and sent to a pathologist for biopsy, an examination under a microscope that identifies cancerous or precancerous cells.

A similar procedure, known as a flexible sigmoidoscopy, examines a smaller portion of the colorectal area. This involves less preparation, and a full colonoscopy might not be needed if polyps are not found, or if they are set among a small area.

Double-contrast barium enema

This x-ray procedure uses a liquid known as barium to provide clearer imaging results than a standard x-ray will give.

Before a barium enema, the patient should fast for several hours.

A liquid solution containing the element barium is then injected into the colon through the rectum, followed by a short pumping of air to smooth over barium layer for optimal results.

The x-ray of the colon and rectum is then taken. The barium can appear white on the x-ray, and tumors and polyps can appear as dark outlines.

If a biopsy suggests colon cancer, the doctor could order a chest x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan of the lungs, liver, and abdomen to evaluate the spread of cancer.

There may also be a blood test for a substance made by some cancer cells known as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).

Following a diagnosis, the doctor can confirm the stage of cancer-based on the size and extent of the tumor, and on the spread to close lymph nodes and distant organs.

Cancer’s stage can confirm the treatment options and inform the prognosis, or the possible course cancer will take.


There are different ways of staging cancer. The stages rely on how far cancer has spread.

Here is a brief summary of a commonly used four-stage account of where the cancer is at the start of each stage.

Stage 0: The cancer is in a} very early stage. it’s called carcinoma in situ. it’s not grown further than the inner layer of the colon.

Stage 1: cancer has grown into the next layer of tissue, however, it’s not reached the lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 2: cancer has reached the outer layers of the colon, however, it’s not spread beyond the colon.

Stage 3: cancer has grown through outer layers of the colon and it’s reached one to three lymph nodes. it’s not spread to distant sites.

Stage 4: cancer has reached other tissues beyond the wall of the colon. As stage 4 progresses, cancer reaches distant parts of the body.

Cancer develops progressively. every stage is not fixed however describes a phase during which certain developments occur.

Treatment and Its Side Effect

Treatment can rely on the type and stage of cancer, and also the age, health status, and other characteristics of the patient.

There is no single treatment for any cancer, however, the most common options for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Treatments used to remove cancer and relieve any painful symptoms.


Surgery to remove part or all of the colon is knowns as colectomy. The surgeon removes the part of the colon containing cancer and also the surrounding area.

Surgery for colorectal cancer usually means an individual can need a colostomy. A bag collects waste from a stoma, bypassing the need for the lower part of the large intestine.

Nearby lymph nodes also are usually removed. The healthy portion of the colon can either be reattached to the rectum or attached to a stoma depending on the extent of the colectomy.

A stoma is an opening created in the wall of the abdomen. Waste can pass into a bag, removing the need for the lower part of the colon. this can be called a colostomy.

Some small, localized cancers will be removed using endoscopy.

Laparoscopic surgery, using many small incisions in the abdomen, could also be a choice to remove larger polyps.

Palliative surgery might relieve symptoms in cases of untreatable or advanced cancers. The aim is to relieve any blockage of the colon and manage pain, bleeding, and other symptoms.


Chemotherapy administers chemicals that interfere with the cell division|biological process} process by damaging proteins or DNA so as to damage and kill cancer cells.

These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells, together with healthy ones. The healthy cells will usually recover from any chemically-induced harm, however, cancer cells cannot.

Chemotherapy is mostly used to treat cancer that has spread because the medicines travel through the whole body. Treatment occurs in cycles, so the body has time to heal between doses.

Common side effects include:

♦ hair loss

♦ nausea

♦ fatigue

♦ vomiting

Combination therapies usually combine multiple types of chemotherapy or combine chemotherapy with different treatments.


Radiation treatment damages and kills cancer cells by focusing high-energy gamma-rays on them.

Radioactive gamma-rays are emitted from metals like radium, or from high-energy x-rays. radiotherapy is used as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells, or alongside other cancer treatments.

Radiation treatments are not usually used till a later stage. they will be employed if the early-stage rectal cancer has penetrated the wall of the rectum or traveled to close lymph nodes.

Side effects could include:

♦ mild skin changes resembling sunburn or suntan

♦ nausea

♦ vomiting

♦ diarrhea

♦ fatigue

♦ appetite and weight loss

Most side effects resolve some weeks after completing treatment.


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