Colon cancer is a type of cancerous growth that affects the area of your large intestine, or colon. The colon is the last section of your digestive tract. This type of cancer usually affects aged individuals, though this is not always true. Colon cancer is also a part of the term, “colorectal cancer” which also includes cancer of the rectum or the last part of the digestive tract.
Colon cancer starts usually from the transformation of small finger-like outgrowths on the inside part of your intestine called polyps. Polyps themselves are non-cancerous. But, they have a high chance of converting into cancerous growths and colon cancer later on.
Usually, colon cancer starts with no symptoms in the earliest stages. As the situation becomes worse, the symptoms start showing. Some of the common early-stage symptoms are:
The most dangerous symptom which should draw attention immediately is the presence of blood in your stools. But, this may not always mean you have colon cancer. It is important not to jump to conclusions and consult your doctor. Other problems like haemorrhoids, tears, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease etc. may also have a similar presentation.
Anaemia is also a symptom to watch out for. You will usually feel tired and short of breath and it becomes hard to recover even after resting.
Although there is no sure way to prevent it, it is possible to catch the disease early when it is easier to treat through screening tests. If you believe you are at risk or have any of the symptoms, it is a good idea to check with your doctor on how you can get screened for colorectal cancer. Another good approach is to stay away from risky habits like smoking and drinking and to keep your weight and sugar levels under check.
There are several screening procedures available like Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), Fecal DNA test, Flexible sigmoidoscopy, Colonoscopy, Double-contrast barium enema, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). However, each procedure has its strengths and weaknesses. Your doctor will combine multiple methods to ensure that you have the right diagnosis and ensure you do not have to go through difficulty unnecessarily. Your doctor will ask you for:
The treatment of colon cancer depends on the progress of cancer, which is denoted by a Stage based classification system. However, please be advised that the right treatment for you depends on many factors and your doctor is the best person to help you with this:
In stage II, cancer has not yet reached the lymph nodes. For stage II cancer, surgical resection is usually followed by chemotherapy and/or other methods.