Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer, which combines colon cancer with rectal cancer, which starts in the rectum. Colorectal cancer was seldom diagnosed a few decades ago. But now, with about 900,000 deaths per year globally, it is the third most fatal cancer.
Dr. Sandeep Nayak, an eminent oncologist in Bangalore, says that according to research, colon cancer can affect 1 in every 23 men and 25 women at some time in their life.
In this article, we shall learn about the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment of colon cancer.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer originates in the large intestine. The colon is the last area of the digestive system. Colon cancer usually occurs in older people, although it can affect anyone at any age. It usually starts as polyps that are tiny, non-cancerous (benign) clusters of cells that grow inside the colon. Some of the polyps may turn into colon cancer over time.
Small polyps may cause minor symptoms if any. As a result, Dr. Sandeep Nayak, one of the best cancer specialists in Bangalore,advises routine screening tests to detect and remove polyps before they turn cancerous.
If colon cancer is diagnosed, various treatments, including radiation therapy, surgery, and medication treatments like targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, are available to help manage it.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
The following are few of the symptoms and signs of colon cancer:
- Changes in your bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea
- A difference in the quality of your stool, thin or loose stool
- Blood in your feces
- Rectal bleeding
- Feeling as if your bowels are not empty even after a bowel movement
- Weakness or tiredness
- Weight loss despite eating well
- Consistent abdominal pain and discomfort, including cramps, gas, or bloating
If you or your loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please get in touch with Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a top-notch surgical oncologist in India.
Many patients do not experience any signs or symptoms in the initial stages of cancer. Symptoms canvary depending on the location and size of cancer in the large intestine.
What are the stages of colon cancer?
There are several methods for determining a cancer stage. The phases show how far cancer has gone and how large any tumors are.
The stages of colon cancer are as follows:
- Stage 0: Carcinoma in situ is a very early stage, where the colon cancer has not progressed beyond the internal lining of the colon and is usually easily treatable.
- Stage 1: Cancer has progressed to the next tissue layer.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread to the exterior layers of the colon but not beyond it.
- Stage 3: The cancer has penetrated the outer layers of the colon and spread to 1 - 3 lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: Cancer has spread outside the colon's wall and reached adjacent tissues. Colon cancer spreads to other areas of the body as stage 4 advances.
What can cause colon cancer?
Doctors are not sure of the exact causes of colon cancer. Generally, it develops when the DNA of healthy colon cells mutates. The DNA of a cell carries instructions that tell it needs to do. Healthy cells multiply and expand in a standard pattern to keep your body functioning smoothly.
If a cell's DNA is compromised and becomes malignant, the cells continue to multiply even though new cells are not required. As the cells grow, a tumor develops.
Over time, the cancerous cells can grow big enough to invade and kill normal tissues nearby. Furthermore, malignant cells can move to other places of the body and create deposits there (metastasis).
What are the risk factors of colon cancer?
Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a highly-skilled surgical oncologist in India, says that unfavorable influences such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and smoking, in addition to aging and dietary choices of high-income countries, raise the risk of colon cancer.
Although the exact causes of colon cancer are not known, potential risk factors include:
- Age:Colon cancer can strike anyone at any age; however, most of those diagnosed are over 50. Colon cancer rates in persons under 50 have been rising, but physicians are not sure why.
- History of polyps or colon cancer:You have a higher risk of colon cancer if you already have non-cancerous colon polyps or colon cancer.
- Family history:If someone in your family has had colon cancer, you are more likely to get it. If more than 1 blood relative has had colon or rectal cancer, then your chances are even higher.
- Sedentary lifestyle:Inactive people are more likely to acquire colon cancer. You can reduce the risk of colon cancer by engaging in regular physical activity.
- Obesity:Compared to those of average weight, obese people have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and dying from colon cancer.
- Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of having colon cancer.
- Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the risk of colon cancer.
- Dietary choices:A standard Western diet that is usually low in fiber and heavy in fat and calories may be linked to colon and rectal cancer. The results of studies in this area have been varied. Some studies have revealed that people who eat a diet high in processed meat and red meat have a higher risk of colon cancer.
- Genetics:Some gene changes passed down through generations can significantly raise the risk of colon cancer. Inherited genes are associated with just a small fraction of colon cancers. Lynch syndrome and FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis), often termed hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), are the two most frequent genetic syndromes that raise colon cancer risk.
What is the colon cancer treatment in Bangalore, India?
Dr. Sandeep Nayak, among the leading oncologists in Bangalore,may suggest testing to evaluate your colon cancer's extent (stage). Staging aids in determining the most effective therapy for you. Imaging methods like CT scans of the abdomen, pelvis, and chest may be used in the staging process.
Other tests that may be suggested are blood tests, colonoscopy, fecal testing, biopsy, X-ray, etc. Treatment is to eradicate cancer, stop it from spreading, and alleviate any unpleasant symptoms. Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation are all used to treat colon cancer.
Surgery during the early stage of colon cancer
If the cancer is in the early stage, small, and contained inside a polyp, it can be extracted during the colonoscopy.
Endoscopic mucosal resection:
During a colonoscopy, the surgeon will remove larger polyps with special equipment that removes both the polyp and a tiny section of the colon's inner lining.
Laparoscopic surgery is used for polyps that cannot be removed during a colonoscopy.
Surgery used for advanced colon cancer
This is a minimally invasive surgery in which only the afflicted area of the sigmoid colon and the rectum is removed.
This involves removing the right side of the colon and the last section of the small intestine linked to the colon.
Total abdominal colectomy:
During this treatment, the oncologist removes the complete large intestine from the lower area of the small intestine to the rectum. The small intestine will then be stitched to the rectum. It can be performed via laparoscopy or open surgery.
In this surgery, the rectum, colon, and anus are removed.
During this surgical procedure, the anus, sigmoid colon, and rectum are removed. The patient is then fitted with a permanent colostomy (an artificial pouch) to pass their waste.
Radiation uses an intense energy beam like the one used in X-rays to target and eliminate cancerous cells. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are routinely used together.
The oncologist will administer medications to eliminate cancer cells during chemotherapy. Following surgery, people with colon cancer are usually given a procedure to remove any leftover cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can help to slow down the progress of cancer.
Do not hesitate to speak with Dr. Sandeep Nayak, one of the preferred cancer specialists in Bangalore, for diagnosis and the best treatment suitable for you.
Colon cancer can severely affect the quality of your life. There is no way to guarantee that colon cancer will not develop. Some preventative actions, however, can help you and your loved ones.
Remember some easy and effective habits are to maintain a healthy weight, follow a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, exercise regularly, reduce consumption of red meat and saturated fats, cut down on alcohol intake and quit smoking.
As the symptoms are not likely to appear until cancer has progressed, it is essential that you visit an experienced oncologist for regular check-ups. Do not delay any longer; schedule an appointment with Dr. Sandeep Nayak at the earliest. He is a highly respected and trusted surgical oncologist in India.