Colon Cancer - Overview

Colon cancer forms in the tissues of large intestine. The cancer is largely known as colon cancer or rectal cancer. Colon cancer and rectal cancer (forms in the last several inches of the colon), if found together, are called colorectal cancers.

Colon Cancer - Overview

This post gives a brief introduction of colon cancer, early detection, symptoms, diagnosis, diet, colon cancer prevention, prognosis, risk factors, colon cancer stages, and colon cancer chemotherapy.

Causes of the colon cancer

Causes of this cancer are often not clear, however, specialists say that colon cancer occurs when healthy cells in the intestine start changing/altering. The body functions properly when healthy cells in body divide in a regular and orderly manner. A single cell, which gets damaged or gets cancerous, keeps dividing (even when there is no need of new cells) and starts spreading the cancer in the tissue and damages the nearby tissue. These cells can also travel through the other body parts.

Risk factors of colon cancer

Factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer

  • Old age
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or tumors/polyps
  • Provocative intestinal conditions
  • Hereditary syndromes
  • Family history
  • Low fiber and high fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle

Colon Cancer Early Detection/Symptoms

  • A change in digestion routines
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or similar stomach issues
  • Blood (either too bright red or very dark) in the feces
  • Loose stool
  • General abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and/or cramps)
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting

Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Test (tests) to find pre-cancer and cancer

  • Colonoscopy
  • Virtual colonoscopy / CT colonography
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Double-contrast barium enema

Tests that specifially find colorectal cancer

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Stool immunochemical test (FIT)
  • Stool DNA (sDNA) test

Colon Cancer Diet

Low fiber and high fat diet, such as, beef, pork, lamb, liver, hot dog or similar food increase the risk of colon cancer. The meat which has been cooked at high temperature releases certain cancer causing chemical. On the other side, high fiber and nutrition rich food, like, vegetables, fruits and whole gains help in decreasing the risk of colon cancer. The colon cancer can be prevented by the right food choices, a healthy routine and staying away from smoking and drinking.

Colon Cancer Stages

The colon cancer has four stages defined by the number of abnormal cells:

  • Stage I

    Cancer takes place in the innermost layer (mucosa) of the intestine wall and has already spread to the upper layer of mucosa. It might be possible that cancer has spread to muscle layer in this stage.

  • Stage II
    1. IIA - Cancer crosses the muscle layer of the colon wall
    2. IIB - Spread through the outermost layer (serosa) of colon wall
    3. IIC - Spread through the serosa and now spreading through the nearby organs.
  • Stage III
    1. IIIA: Cancer has spread through the mucosa and muscle layer of the colon layer. At this stage cancer has spread to minimum three nearby lumps nodes or more.
    2. IIIB: Cancer has spread through all the layers of the colon (the muscle layer and the serosa) but not till the nearby organ yet. Cancer has spread through at least 4 and at max 6 nearby lymph.
  • Stage IV
    1. IVA: In this stage the cancer has spread through the colon wall and also through nearby organs or lymph nodes. It may have spread through organs far from the colon, such as ovary, liver, or to distant lymph nodes.
    2. IVB: Cancer has spreads to organs that are far from intestine, such as, the abdominal wall.
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  • Colon Cancer - Causes & Risk Factors

    Colon Cancer - Causes & Risk Factors

    The exact causes of colon cancer are still unclear, however, there are some known risk factors. Risk factors are not really the colon cancers' causes but they affect the chance of getting the disease. It is not necessary that having a risk factor means the person will surely suffer from colon cancer. There have been several cases of colon cancer where person did not have any known risk factor but have developed the disease. It is actually difficult to determine how the risk factors develop the disease.