Do you know that there will be an estimated 104,270 colon cancer cases in the United States in 2021? Understanding how to recognize, prevent, and treat colon cancer can reduce the disease-related risks. This post provides vital insights into colon cancer.
What Is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer originates from the colon system (large intestine), where the body removes water and salts from solid waste. Cancer occurs when cells lining the colon become abnormal and grow out of control. Most cancer begins as small precancerous polyps that grow slowly. These growths (polyps) arise after mutations occur in their cellular DNA. The mutations cause the cells lining the colon to multiply uncontrollably even when they are supposed to die, leading to cancer. Notably, the risk factors for colon cancer include family history, diet, alcohol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The following are the significant symptoms of colon cancer:
- Abdominal and pelvic pain and discomfort
- Blood on and in the stool signaling bleeding in the digestive systems
- Change in bowel habits including diarrhea, incomplete bowel evacuation, and incontinence
- Unexplained anemia
- Unexplained weight loss
Colon Cancer Prevention
The two major approaches to prevent colon cancer are screening and lifestyle changes. People who experience colon cancer may not see any symptoms in their early stages. However, if you notice persisted symptoms, make sure you see a doctor for screening. Usually, regular colon screenings are important for those at the age of 50 or sooner for people at high risk. The doctor will usually prescribe the most appropriate screening method, including colonoscopy and blood tests.
An individual can also reduce the risk of getting colon cancer through lifestyle changes. For instance, diets such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants are critical in preventing colon cancer. Also, one can stop smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, and exercise regularly.
Colon Cancer Treatment
Upon a positive diagnosis with colon cancer, the doctor prescribes tests to determine the disease stage. The staging tests include imaging procedures like CT and MRI scans for the abdominal, chest, and pelvic areas. Usually, it may be hard to tell the exact stage without surgery. The stages range from 0 to IV on a low-to-advanced scale.
The treatment options depend on the particular situation, including the location and stage of cancer. The following are the primary treatment approaches for cancer:
- Early-stage surgery to remove polyps through colonoscopy or laparoscopic procedure
- Advanced stage surgery to remove parts of the colon or the lymph node and create a way for waste removal
- Chemotherapy using drugs to destroy cancerous cells
- Radiation therapy using powerful energy sources like X-rays to kill cancerous cells
- Targeted drug therapy using drugs that block abnormalities in cancer cells
- Immunotherapy that uses drugs to trigger the immune systems to fight cancer
- Palliative care focused on relieving pain and other cancer symptoms
With proper and timely medical attention, it is possible to prevent and treat colon cancer. Get in touch with a primary care provider for regular screening and an effective treatment program for colon cancer.