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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Colon cancer is a condition in which abnormal cells grow in the large intestine. Check out an explanation of the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it in the following review.

Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is the growth of malignant tumors on the surface of the colon or rectum. In most cases, this condition starts as a benign cell growth (adenoma)—which in its early stages forms polyps (cells that grow very quickly).

Adenomas can be removed easily at an early stage. It’s just that at this stage, it often doesn’t cause symptoms so it isn’t detected for a relatively long time.

Colon Cancer Symptoms

This cancer may not cause symptoms, especially in its early stages. However, some symptoms that may appear in the early stages include:

  1. Diarrhea.
  2. Constipation.
  3. Changes in the shape and color of the stool.
  4. bloody chapters.
  5. Bleeding from the rectum.
  6. Excessive gas.
  7. stomach cramps

If you experience any of the symptoms of the colon above, immediately consult a doctor to get the right treatment and to screen for colon cancer.

While symptoms are more apparent in the late stages (stages III and IV), they include:

  1. Excessive or unexplained fatigue.
  2. Weight loss.
  3. Stool changes (shape and color) that last more than a month.
  4. The intestine does not feel completely empty.
  5. Throws up.

If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, you may also experience the following characteristics of colon cancer:

  1. jaundice (jaundice)characterized by yellow eyes and skin.
  2. Swelling in the hands or feet.
  3. Difficulty breathing
  4. Chronic headaches.
  5. Blurred vision.
  6. Fracture.

Also Read: Bowel Polyps: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Immediately go to the doctor if you feel the symptoms as mentioned above. Not all symptoms are caused by colon cancer. The doctor will carry out further examinations and determine the cause.

Colon Cancer Causes

The cause is not known for certain, but this condition begins when healthy cells in the large intestine experience changes (mutations) in DNA. The cell’s DNA contains a series of instructions that tell the cell to work.

When a cell’s DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, cells divide without command and don’t die; that accumulate and form tumors.

Cancer cells that grow will attack and destroy the normal tissue around it. In addition, cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body to form deposits (metastases).

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Colon Cancer Risk Factors

The following are various things that can increase the risk of this condition, including:

  • Age. This cancer can be suffered at any age, but most sufferers are over 50 years old.
  • History of colorectal cancer or polyps. The risk increases if you have had colon cancer or non-cancerous colon polyps.
  • Intestinal inflammation. Having a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can increase your risk of this cancer.
  • Family history. You are more likely to have this condition if you have relatives with blood diseases.
  • Race. African-American ethnicity has a higher risk of experiencing it.
  • Low fiber and high fat diet. Colon cancer and anal cancer can be associated with diets low in fiber, high in fat, and calories.
  • Not actively moving. People who rarely move or are inactive are more likely to experience this condition.
  • Diabetes. Diabetics have an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Obesity People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of this cancer.
  • Smoking and alcoholic beverages. People who frequently smoke and consume excessive alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of colon cancer.
  • Radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy to the stomach to treat cancer that was done previously can also increase the risk of this disease.

Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Usually the doctor will start by looking for information about your medical and family history. The doctor will also do a physical examination, such as pressing on the stomach or doing a rectal examination to determine if there are lumps or polyps.

Here are some tests that might be done to diagnose cancer cells in the colon, including:

1. Blood test

The doctor will perform some of these tests to determine a better picture of what is causing the symptoms of colon cancer.

There are actually no blood tests that specifically screen for colorectal cancer, but liver function tests and complete blood count tests can rule out other diseases and disorders.

2. Colonoscopy

This procedure helps the doctor to check for anything abnormal from the inside of the colon and rectum. During this exam, the doctor may also remove tissue from the abnormal area (biopsy). After that, tissue samples are analyzed in the laboratory.

3. Imaging Examination

The doctor may also recommend an examination with a CT scan, MRI, or abdominal ultrasound to help see the spread of cancer to other organs of the body.

Also Read: Appendicitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Colon Cancer Stage

The stage of the cancer can indicate how far the cancer has spread and the size of the tumor. Here’s the explanation:

This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ. Cancer is in a very early stage. The cancer has not grown further into the inner lining of the colon and is usually easy to treat.

The cancer has grown to the next layer of tissue but has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

The cancer has invaded the outer lining of the colon, but has not spread beyond the colon.

The cancer has grown on the outer lining of the large intestine and has invaded one to three lymph nodes. However, the cancer cells have not spread to other, more distant parts of the body.

The cancer has reached other tissues outside the colon wall. As stage 4 progresses, the cancer reaches other, more distant parts of the body.

Also Read: Diabetes and its Relation to Increased Risk of Cancer

Colon Cancer Treatment

Basically, treatment is carried out according to the severity and stage of the cancer. There are several ways to deal with this, including:

1. Operation

The operation is performed by removing the part of the large intestine that is overgrown with cancer cells and the healthy tissue around it.

Furthermore, the intestine will be connected to other healthy parts of the intestine. However, there are also conditions that make this intestinal connection impossible, so that a hole will be made as a channel for feces disposal.

2. Chemotherapy

There are several drugs that can be used to kill cancer cells, reduce tumor size, and reduce the symptoms of colon cancer.

3. Targeted Therapy

This treatment targets specific genes, proteins, or tissues so that cancer cell growth can be inhibited and stopped.

4. Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is done by emitting light from outside the body to the part of the body that has cancer. However, it can also be done by placing a device near the cancer site.

Colon Cancer Prevention

The following are some tips that can be done to prevent the appearance of malignant tumors in the large intestine, including:

  • Limit your intake of foods high in fat, protein, calories, and red meat. Fill your body with supplements that contain calcium and folic acid, especially after undergoing a polypectomy.
  • It is also recommended to take supplementation of vitamins E and D.
  • Diligent eat fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Maintain a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 – 25.0 Kg/m2.
  • Do physical activity, such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Immediately do a colonoscopy and polypectomy if polyps are found.
  • Do early detection with occult blood tests from the age of 40 years.
  1. Anonymous. 2019. Colon cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669. (Accessed 9 February 2023).
  2. Anonymous. Colon Cancer. https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/colon-cancer. (Accessed 9 February 2023).
  3. Cross, Peter. 2019. Everything you need to know about colon cancer. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150496.php. (Accessed 9 February 2023).
  4. Wint, Carmella and Jennifer Nelson. 2019. Colorectal (Colon) Cancer. https://www.healthline.com/health/colon-cancer. (Accessed 9 February 2023)

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