Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells that take over neighbouring cells and tissues and, at later stages, also spread to organs. When such cells start in the colon, they cause colon cancer.
- A change in bowel habits.
- Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool.
- Diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.
- Stools that are narrower than usual.
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Feeling very tired.
Every type of Cancer has risk factors, but they don’t tell us everything. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors.
- A family history of cancer of the colon or rectum.
- Certain hereditary conditions
- A history of ulcerative colitis ( ulcers in the lining of the large intestine) or Crohn disease.
- A personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast.
- A personal history of (small areas of bulging tissue) in the colon or rectum.
It can be prevented to a certain extent by avoiding the risk factors.
Cancer has different stages, each depicted by a Roman numeral from 1 to 4 (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is the first stage where the tumor is still small while at Stage IV, the patient’s condition is said to be critical because the tumor has spread to other organs of the body. Hence, a cancer’s stage refers to the tumor’s size and extent of spread. This is the simplest form of staging.
In Colon cancer, the stage depends on whether it is confined to the origin of the cancer (localized cancer, Stage I) or whether it has spread to other organs (metastatic cancer).
The stage decides the kind of treatment you need to get. The greater the stage number, the more complex the treatment.
Needless to say, if the endometrial colon cancer is detected while it is still in Stage I, survival rate is higher. The rate decreases progressively with the increase in stage. Stage III is considered critical, while stage IV is, more often than not, fatal.
Medicine is evolving everyday to meet these challenges and to keep you happy, healthy and alive!
Apart from the signs and symptoms, certain tests can help diagnose the cancer early. These include:
- Physical exam and history
- Digital rectal exam
- Fecal occult blood test
- Barium enema
- Virtual colonoscopy
Based on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors, primary treatment options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targetted therapy
Treatment is based on the type of tumor and other factors, and often more than one type of treatment is used. Discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your treatment team to help make the decision that best fits your needs.
If you have any of the symptoms, please do visit the doctor.
If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in the Symptoms section, you should probably visit a doctor. You can also get your genetic make-up tested to see if you are prone to colon cancer.