- Colon cancer also known as colorectal cancer is the cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of human body’s digestive tract.
- In most cases, colon cancer begin as non-cancerous clumps of cells or polyps. These abdominal polyps show no real symptoms but can be detected by screening. Early removal of colon polyps can aid in the prevention of colon cancer.
- This is the reason why doctors recommend screenings for those who have a family history of the disease or over the age of 50. Early detection is key to successful colon cancer treatment.
- Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the US, and the second leading cause of cancer death.
- Though the symptoms usually depend on the size and location of the cancer, some common signs of the disease include changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool and abdominal discomfort.
Like any other cancer, Colon cancer treatment also depends on the size, location and extent of cancer spread. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Surgery - Surgery is the most common treatment for all types and stages of colon cancer. There are two main types of surgery: Laparoscopy and open surgery.
- Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a preferred surgical option for early stage colon cancer treatment. Using a thin, lighted tube called a laparoscope, surgeon makes three or four tiny cuts into your abdomen and removes the cancerous cells.
- Open surgery: This surgery is performed during advanced stages of cancer.
- Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy refers to treatment that uses drugs to kill cells or to stop them from dividing. These drugs are given in cycles, administering a treatment for a period of time followed by a rest to allow your body time to recover.
- Radiation Therapy – The third option for colon cancer treatment is Radiation therapy that uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays, to kill any cancer cells that might remain after surgery. Use of radiation therapy to treat colon cancer is not very common, but it may be used in certain instances such as to shrink large tumors before an operation so that they can be removed more easily, or to relieve symptoms of colon cancer and rectal cancer or to help control cancers in people who are not healthy enough for surgery.
During colon cancer treatment, Chemotherapy is often combined with radiotherapy making for a more effective treatment. Using these 2 treatments together is called chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy.
Some of these factors that may increase your risk are:
- Age over 50: More than 90 percent of people with this disease are diagnosed after the age of 50.
- Family history of polyps and colorectal cancer
- Personal history of cancer: Someone who has had colon cancer in the past may be at increased risk for developing the disease a second time.
- Genetic mutation
- A person with a family history of HNPCC or FAP can have genetic testing to check for specific genetic changes.
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease that cause inflammation of the colon may put an individual at increased risk of developing colon cancer.
- Diet and Lifestyle: Studies suggest that diets high in red meat and fat (especially animal fat) and low in calcium, folate and fiber may increase risk of colorectal cancer.