Health and Fitness

Colon cancer – Symptoms and Causes

The primary cause of colon cancer is the tumorous growth in your large intestine. In fact, colon cancer is the third most common cause of death due to cancer in the United States of America.

The large intestine or colon is where your body extracts salt and water from all types of solid wastes, which is passed through the rectum and taken out of the body through the anus.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Many of the common symptoms of colon cancer, such as infection, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids etc. are not exactly related to colon cancer. In other words, people who have one or all of these symptoms don’t have cancer.

However, if you have notice of these symptoms, you must see a doctor and undergo the diagnosis. The following are the common symptoms:

  • Blood in the stool, or dark stool
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • You feel that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Narrowing of the stool that lasts for a few weeks
  • Diarrhea or constipation or simply change in the bowel movement
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Continual urges to defecate

Technology advancements have made the diagnosis, screening, and treatment a lot easier than before. However, regular screening is highly recommended once you cross the age of 50 years. In this case, the liver is highly affected.

Some Facts Related to Colon Cancer

No matter how many people have already died due to colon cancer in any part of the world, there are certain facts that everyone must be aware of. Here are some of the facts:

  • Colon cancer begins with polyps and affects the walls of the large intestine
  • While its symptoms are not so specific and may not appear until a later stage, there are certain gastrointestinal problems that point to colon cancer.
  • The treatment of colon cancer involves a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery that possibly lead to colostomy.
  • A healthy, low fact fiber-rich diet can help avoid colon cancer in the long run while regular after the age of 50 years can help to detect it in an early stage.

Causes of Colon Cancer

Abnormal cells, already exist in the human body, divide and die periodically. However, when these abnormal cells keep growing, keep diving uncontrollably. These cells lead to the formation of a tumor in the body that start hurting other tissues in the surrounding.

  • When abnormal cells don’t die and form a large-enough tumor to hurt tissues in the surrounding, they lead to cancer.
  • Colon cancer originates from noncancerous tumors that are called adenomatous polyps that form the inner walls of your large intestine.
  • These cancerous cells are able to spread to other parts of your body through the lymph system and blood.
  • Cancerous cells invade other healthy organs and tissues in your body and the process is called metastasis. This leads to a severe, non-treatable condition.

Although the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown even today, it does have severe potential risks.

Polyps

Precancerous polyps exist in your large intestine and lead to colon cancer. The following are common types of polyps:

  • Adenomas – These polyps can have a similar look to the lining of the colon but they certainly look different when placed under a microscope.
  • Hyperplastic Polyps – As these polyps are benign, they rarely develop colon cancer.

Some polyps grow into malignant colon over time, in case they remain unseen and removed in an early stage.

Genes

Some genetic damages lead to uncontrolled cell growth or sometimes when DNA changes affect the division of cells. Although colon cancer has nothing to do with your family history, it can be caused due to the inheritance of a genetic predisposition.

Some people are born with a genetic mutation of some of the other type, which makes them more prone to cancer development at some point in time. Then there are some people who have this genetic feature, but they won’t develop colon cancer unless some environmental factor triggers.

Diet, Traits, and Habits

Colon cancer mostly develops with age. In fact, over 90% of people who developed colon cancer were found to be above 50 years of age.

Smoking and other lifestyle diseases like obesity are more likely to cause colon cancer in people.

Since colon is a part of your digestive system and your diet is the most important factor that can help avoid the likeliness of colon cancer. High fat and low fiber diets like red meat, processed meat and alcohol leave you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.

Colon Cancer Prevention

Here are some standard preventive measures:

  • Decrease red meat and saturated fat consumption
  • Include exercise in your daily schedule
  • Consume fruits, whole grains, and vegetable
  • Maintain a healthy weight range

Try to limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking now.

Colon Cancer Treatment

Like other types of cancer, the treatment is pretty much dependent upon the current stage, age and health status of the affected person.

The treatment of colon cancer includes three major types:

  • Surgery:

Surgery includes removal of part of all of the colon, which is called colectomy. The affected area or part of the colon needs to be removed to prevent cancer from spreading.

  • Radiotherapy

This treatment involves damaging the cancer cells by focusing the highly-concentrated gamma rays on them, typically emitted from metals like radium or high0energy X-rays.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy includes chemical treatment that interferes with the cell division process and kills the cancer cells. This treatment is best suited if cancer has spread due to the medicinal travel across your body.

Final Words

Cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed in early stages. No matter which treatment type is ideal, it is very painful and may not be efficient if diagnosed in later stages. The biggest issue with cancer is that not all symptoms are cancer-specific and often lead to some other disease. Therefore, a complete medical checkup every six months is a must.