Colon cancer: symptoms, signs, screening tests, stadiums

Filed in: Diseases & Conditions.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon composite photo

Colorectal Cancer it is the third most common commonskin cancer It is diagnosed in men and women in the USA. UU It is also the second highest cause of death from cancer. Even so, colorectal cancer is highly curable when detected early enough. Colorectal cancer is the result of cancer cells that form in the lining of the colon (large intestine) or rectum.

How colorectal cancer begins

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Colorectal cancer often begins as a benign growth known as a polyp. Adenomas are a type of polyp and are benign tissue tumors that line the colon or rectum. Most polyps will remain benign, but some adenomas have the potential to become long-term cancer. If they are eliminated early, this prevents them from becoming cancer.

Risk factors that you can not control

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Some risk factors for getting colorectal cancer are beyond your control. All of the following increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer:

Inflammatory bowel disease Polyps in the colon Age over 50 years Family history of colorectal cancer History of breast or ovarian cancer

Risk factors that you can control

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However, there are other risk factors for colorectal cancer that you can control. The following risk factors can be modified:

Eat a diet high in red or processed meat, or eat meat cooked at high temperatures Overweight or obesity Inadequate exercise Smoking cigarettes Drinking alcohol

Warning signs of colorectal cancer

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Screening is important because colorectal cancer in its early stages usually produces no symptoms. Screening can detect cancer before it produces symptoms, when it is more curable. Once the disease begins to spread, it can produce blood in the stool, changes in bowel patterns (such as Diarrhea or constipation) abdominal pain, weightlossor fatigue. Tumors that cause symptoms are usually larger and harder to treat.

Detection of colorectal cancer

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It is recommended that most people undergo a screening colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50. A colonoscopy allows the examination of the entire colon and rectum with a tiny camera. This test can detect cancers in the early, more treatable stage and, in reality, prevent the development of cancer by removing polyps, as shown here.

What is a virtual colonoscopy?

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An alternative to colonoscopy uses computed tomography images to visualize the colon. This is known as a virtual colonoscopy. As with a conventional colonoscopy, the colon should be emptied as well as possible before the test. In virtual colonoscopy, polyps or tumors are visualized without inserting the camera into the intestine. One disadvantage is that a virtual colonoscopy can only identify and not eliminate the polyps found. A real colonoscopy is needed to remove the polyps that can be identified.

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X-rays of the colon (lower GI)

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An X-ray of the colon, known as the lower GI series, may provide another way to obtain images of the colon and rectum. A calcareous liquid known as barium is used as a contrast agent. This photo shows an example of an "apple core" tumor that narrows the colon. As with a virtual colonoscopy, a real colonoscopy or other surgical procedure would be needed to remove any tumor or polyp that can be found.

Diagnosis of colorectal cancer

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If abnormalities are seen in your colon or rectum, a biopsy is done to determine if there is cancer. This can be done during a colonoscopy. The tissue is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. This image shows a very enlarged view of colon cancer cells.

Staging of colorectal cancer

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Staging is the process of determining how much a tumor has spread beyond its original location. The staging may not be related to the size of the tumor. Treatment decisions also depend on the stage of a tumor. The staging of colorectal cancer is as follows:

Stage 0: Cancer is found only in the inner lining of the rectum or colon. Stage I: The cancer has not spread beyond the inner wall of the rectum or colon. Stage II: Cancer has spread to the muscle layer of the rectum or colon. Stage III: The cancer has spread to at least one lymph node in the area. Stage IV: The cancer has spread to distant sites in the body, such as the bones, liver, or lungs. This stage does NOT depend on how far the tumor has penetrated or whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near the tumor.

Survival rates for colorectal cancer

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The higher stages mean that a cancer is more serious and has a worse prognosis. Patients with stage I colorectal cancer have a 5-year survival rate of 74%, while the rate is reduced to 6% for stage IV tumors.

Colorectal cancer surgery

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Except in very advanced cases, colorectal cancer is usually treated by surgically removing the tumor and surrounding tissues. Surgery has a very high cure rate for early stage tumors. For advanced tumors that have spread outside the colon, surgery usually does not cure the condition, but removal of larger tumors can reduce symptoms.

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Advanced treatment of colorectal cancer

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Colorectal cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes (stage III) can sometimes still be cured. In this case, the treatment usually consists of surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer. In cases of rectal cancer, radiotherapy is added before and after surgery in more advanced cases. Cancers that return after treatment or spread to other organs are harder to treat and harder to cure, but treatments can relieve symptoms and prolong life.

Dealing with chemotherapy

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Modern chemotherapy drugs are less likely to cause nausea and other worrisome side effects than older medications, and medications are also available to help control these side effects. Clinical trials are always under way to develop better and more tolerable chemotherapy drugs.

Radiofrequency ablation

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Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a type of cancer treatment that uses heat to destroy tumor tissue. Computed tomography is used to guide the insertion of a needle-shaped device into the tumor, through which intense heat is applied. RFA may be an option to destroy tumors that can not be removed by surgery. In patients who have a few metastatic tumors in the liver that can not be removed by surgery, chemotherapy is sometimes combined with RFA to destroy the tumors.

Prevention of colorectal cancer: diet

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Eating a nutritious diet, getting enough exercise and controlling body fat could prevent 45% of colorectal cancers, according to the researchers. This means that adopting a healthy lifestyle can dramatically reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer. The National Cancer Institute recommends a low-fat diet with lots of fiber and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Prevention of cancer with exercise

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One study showed that people who exercised more were 24% less likely to get colorectal cancer than their less active counterparts. There was no difference if this activity was related to work or recreation. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 or more days a week.


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