Colon cancer is a type of cancer that attacks the colon or the last part of the human digestive system. Although this disease can occur at any age, 90% of the sufferers are elderly people over 60 years old. Most cases of colon cancer begin with the formation of small cell slumps called polyp adenomas. These clumps then spread uncontrollably over time.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon cancer can be identified with its symptoms. Some of the symptoms that can be felt colon cancer patients include :
- The presence of blood in the stool (feces) or even bleeding in the anus.
- Changes in the texture of the density of the dirt, either getting harder until it becomes constipation or increased liquid (diarrhea).
- Weight loss.
- Body feels tired.
- Pain or cramps in the abdomen.
- Increased frequency of bowel movements or diarrhea.
- Constipation .
- Decreased appetite.
See your doctor immediately if you feel the symptoms of colon cancer, especially if you have diarrhea alternating with constipation for more than three weeks. Please be wary also if your age has reached 50 years and above and feel the symptoms.
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Causes of Colon Cancer
Cancer occurs when there is a genetic mutation, in which DNA cells in certain body areas grow uncontrollably and are destructive. In colon cancer, abnormal growth of these cells begins in the lining of the intestines, then spread and destroy other cells nearby, or even to other areas of the body.
The genetic mutation in colon cancer is thought to be hereditary. That is, someone who has a family member with colon cancer will be more at risk to suffer from this disease. There are two types of colon cancer that are hereditary, namely:
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). This disorder is also known as Lynch syndrome. A person with Lynch syndrome will be at high risk for colon cancer before the age of 50 years.
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). FAP is a rare disease that causes the appearance of thousands of small lumps (polyps) on the walls of the colon and rectum. A person with FAP is at risk multiple times for colon cancer before the age of 40 years.
- Too much eating red meat and
- Lack of fiber.
- Consume alcoholic beverages.
- Being overweight or obese .
- Aged above 50 years.
- Suffer from digestive disorders, one of which is ulcerative colitis or chronic inflammation in the colon.
- Have diabetes .
- Less exercise.
- Have a parent or sibling suffering from colon cancer.
- Suffer from familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a genetic disorder that causes the growth of clumps of cells or polyps in the colon.
Stages of Development of Colon Cancer
There are four stages that determine the severity of colon cancer, namely:
- Stage 1. At this stage the cancer has begun to grow in the colon, but has not spread because it is still blocked intestinal wall.
- Stage 2. At this stage the cancer has spread throughout the walls of the large intestine, even penetrating it.
- Stage 3. At this stage the lymph nodes adjacent to the large intestine have been gnawed by cancer.
- Stage 4. This is the most severe level of colon cancer spread. At this stage the cancer has further spread and attack other body organs, such as the lungs and liver.
Diagnosis of Colon Cancer
To find out if a patient has colon cancer, the doctor will first ask for symptoms that are felt. In addition, the doctor will also ask whether the patient is suffering from a certain condition that may increase the risk of colon cancer or whether the patient has a close relative of colon cancer.
After the explanation is obtained, the doctor will likely check the patient's anus condition to see any swelling. A device called sigmoidoscopy can be used by a doctor if necessary. Sigmoidoscopy is a small hose-shaped device equipped with lights and a camera at the end to be inserted into the large intestine through the anus. Through the monitor, the doctor can see if there are any signs of colon cancer.
In addition to sigmoidoscopy, there are several kinds of tests that can be done to determine the presence of colon cancer, especially if sigmoidoskopi just perceived doctors is not enough. Some of these checks are:
- Colonoscopy . The concept of examination is actually the same as sigmoidoscopy. It's just the colonoscopy, a tool that is used longer so as to reach deeper into the colon. The camera mounted at the end of the colonoscopy is able to give an image of the abnormal parts of the colon due to cancer. Even if necessary, a biopsy or sampling can be performed with a special tool included in the colonoscopy. The sample is then investigated in the laboratory to detect the presence of cancer. Before doing a colonoscopy, the patient will be given a laxative by the doctor so that the stomach is clean of the dirt, so the results obtained from the observation process will be much better.
- Virtual colonoscopy. This examination is also called CT colonography. Usually this examination is performed if the patient can not undergo regular colonoscopy for certain medical reasons. Inside a virtual colonoscopy, a special tube is inserted into the anus. The gas will then be pumped through the tube, so that the patient's bowel will slightly expand. After that, the doctor will be able to observe the intestinal state from all angles with the help of CT scan.
Colon Cancer Treatment
The stage or severity of the cancer will determine what type of treatment the doctor will do. The following are three main types of treatment in cases of colon cancer.
Chemotherapy is a way to kill cancer cells through the administration of a number of drugs. These medications may be tablets taken, infusion, or a combination of both. Some examples of colon cancer drugs are cetuximab and bevacizumab.
In cases of colon cancer, chemotherapy is usually performed before surgery with the aim of shrinking the tumor, relieving the symptoms felt by the patient, or slowing the spread of cancer. Chemotherapy can also be given postoperatively to prevent cancer from reappearing.
The timing of chemotherapy is usually divided into several cycles, depending on the severity of the cancer. Most patients with colon cancer usually undergo chemotherapy infusion sessions for several hours or days within two to three weeks. Each cycle of chemotherapy is separated by a break for several weeks in order for the patient to recover from the effects of chemotherapy. Some of the side effects of chemotherapy are:
- Feet and hands feel itchy or hot
- Hair loss
The goal of radiotherapy is the same as chemotherapy, which is to kill cancer cells. But on radiotherapy, treatment method is done by using radiation emission.
Before surgery, radiotherapy can be done to reduce the size of the tumor or relieve symptoms if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. While radiotherapy is done postoperatively aims to prevent cancer so as not to return.
Some of the side effects of radiotherapy are:
- Become often water buzz
- The skin around the anus or pelvis feels hot
- External radiotherapy. In this method cancer cells are destroyed by emitting high-level radiation waves to cancer patients. Usually this therapy is done as much as five days a week, for one to five weeks. Each treatment session will take about ten to fifteen minutes.
- Internal radiotherapy. In this method of colon cancer will be depreciated by using a radioactive hose placed next to the cancer. Internal radiotherapy is usually performed as much as one session before surgery.
The type of colon cancer handling surgery performed depends on the severity of the spread of cancer itself. If the diagnosed cancer is still in its early stages, surgery usually can be done through colonoscopy to eliminate cancer growth. If not through a colonoscopy, it can be removed through a 'key hole' or laparoscopic operation.
The second type of procedure is called colostomy surgery. This is done if the cancer has spread through the walls of the intestine. Through colostomy, the part of the large intestine that has been digerogoti by the cancer will be removed. In addition, the surrounding lymph nodes will also be removed.
If the patient's health condition is already very bad due to the spread of cancer that has been severe, then the purpose of surgery is only to relieve symptoms of the patient. Combined with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, this step is expected to improve the patient's life chances.
Prevention of Colon Cancer
We can prevent colon cancer by applying a healthy lifestyle to minimize the risk of getting the disease. Among them are:
- Routine exercise. It is recommended to regularly exercise for two and a half hours a week. The types of sports you can do for example are brisk walking or cycling.
- Eat healthy foods. To avoid the risk of colon cancer, eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, nuts, or cereals. Expand to consume fish and reduce meat consumption.
- Maintain weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Reduce or avoid alcoholic beverages. In general, the recommended recommendation is no more than 2 units of alcohol per day. These two units of alcohol are simply equal to about 1.5 cans of beer or 1.5 glasses of wine ( wine ). Keep in mind that each liquor has a different alcohol content, so the amount must be adjusted so as not to exceed the maximum limit per day.
Life Opportunities of Colon Cancer Patients
The chances of a cured person will depend on how severely the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. It is estimated that about 80 percent of patients with colon cancer still have a chance to live at least one year after diagnosis. Even 40 percent of them still have a chance to live longer, at least for the next 10 years.