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What Is Colon Cancer & How Can It Be Treated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that colon cancer is the third most prevalent form of cancer in the United States after skin cancer and lung cancer. As per the American Cancer Society (ACS), one in every 23 men and one in every 25 women will be diagnosed with colon cancer every year.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer occurs when cells in the colon or rectum show abnormal growth. The colon is also known as the large intestine or bowel. The rectum is a tube that runs from the colon to the anus. 

The organs that make up the lowest portion of your digestive system are colon and rectum. Colon cancer begins in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (small intestine). Polyps create abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Some polyps develop into cancer over time. Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. 

Who are those at risk?

As you become older, your chances of developing colorectal cancer increase. Others who can be at risk include those suffering from the following :

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Having a family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Having a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) external icon or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)

The following can raise colorectal cancer risk :

  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • A diet deficient in fruits & vegetables
  • A high-fat and low fiber diet. 
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking 

Early Symptoms of Colon Cancer 


 

Colorectal cancer does not often present with symptoms, especially at the beginning. It's possible that someone may have polyps or colorectal cancer and could be entirely ignorant about it. That is why it is necessary to have periodic colorectal cancer screenings especially if you fall under the high risk category.

If you're experiencing symptoms, they could include: 

  • Changes in bowel habits.
  • Blood in stool.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or the feeling that your bowels aren't emptying completely.
  • Constant abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. It's possible that they're caused by something other than cancer. Seeing your doctor is the only way to figure out what's causing them.

Different Stages of Colon Cancer 

Doctors use staging as a generalized guideline to determine the extent of the disease. An accurate diagnosis of the cancer stage helps your doctor determine the best treatment for you.

The earliest stage of colon cancer is stage 0, while the most advanced stage is stage 4. These stages are described as follows:

0th stage:  This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ, because abnormal cells are only found in the inner lining of the colon or rectum at this point.

1st stage: This is when the malignancy has broken through the mucosa lining of the colon or rectum and may have progressed to the muscular layer. It hasn't migrated to neighboring lymph nodes or any other organs.

Stage 2: The cancer has progressed to the colon or rectum walls, or through the walls to surrounding tissues, but the lymph nodes have not been impacted.

Stage 3: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes but not to any other organs.

Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver or the lungs.

Is Colon Cancer Curable? 

Being diagnosed with colon cancer can be frightening and stressful. This type of cancer, fortunately, is treatable, especially when caught early. In recent years, new treatments have resulted in increasingly better outcomes.

What are the treatment options available for Colon Cancer?


 

Treatment of colon cancer is dependent on a number of things. Based on your overall health and the stage of the disease, your doctor will decide the best treatment plan. Treatment options which may be considered are as follows :

Surgery

Your surgeon may be able to remove cancerous polyps through surgery in the early stages of colon cancer. If the polyp hasn't attached to the gut wall, your condition is likely to be good.

A piece of the colon or rectum and nearby lymph nodes may need to be removed by your surgeon, If your cancer has progressed to the lining of your intestines. Your surgeon may be able to reconnect the colon's remaining healthy section to the rectum. If this isn't possible, a colostomy may be performed. This entails cutting a hole in the abdominal wall to allow waste to pass through. The colostomy may be either temporary or permanent.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a method of killing cancer cells by administering medication. Chemotherapy is used to remove any remaining malignant cells It is usually administered after surgery. Chemotherapy can also be used to stop malignancies from spreading.

Radiation

Before and after surgery, radiation targets and destroys malignant cells with an intense beam of energy comparable to that used in X-rays. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often combined.

Targeted Drug Therapy 

Targeted medication treatments are designed to target specific abnormalities found in cancer cells. Targeted medication treatments can kill cancer cells by inhibiting these abnormalities.

Chemotherapy is usually used in combination with targeted medicines. People with advanced colon cancer are usually treated with targeted medicines.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy involves using your immune system to fight cancer.  The body's disease-fighting immune system may not be able to identify your cancer cells because cancer cells produce proteins that prevent the immune system cells from identifying them. Immunotherapy works by interfering with the immune system's natural processes. 

Immunotherapy is often used only in cases of advanced colon cancer. Your cancer cells may be checked by your doctor to ascertain if they're likely to respond to this treatment.

Next Steps 

Regardless of what happens throughout your therapy, you'll require assistance. It's critical to communicate with your medical staff and loved ones, as well as to feel comfortable when asking for support. At ACTC, we provide personalized cancer care treatment that is evidence based. We have some of the most experienced Florida cancer specialists on our team. 

If you or a loved one are suffering from cancer and looking for the best cancer hospitals in Florida, consider ACTC. As one of the leading Florida cancer specialists in Brooksville, ACTC understands how a cancer diagnosis and treatment impacts a person's emotional state of mind, so we strive to make both patients and family members feel at ease. Call us at  352-345-4565 to schedule an appointment! 

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