Colon is an important part of the digestive tract. It is between 150 and 220 cm long and its basic function is to absorb water from fecal matter that enters this area through the small intestine. After that, the remaining matter is moved forward in order to be flushed out through the anal opening. Colon cancer has become one of the most frequent malignant diseases. According to official statistics, about 0,05 % of the population dies each year as a result of colon cancer. In this article, we will talk about identification of colon cancer symptoms, signs, diagnosis and few other things related to colon cancer.
Colon Cancer – Causes
Colon cancer is characterized by growths or tumors located inside this organ. These tumors usually develop from regular polyps. Colon polyps must be removed immediately because they can lead to colon cancer after a while – once the cells start dividing they can create tumors.
The surrounding tissue can also be affected and malign cells can separate from the primary tumor and create metastasis in other body parts. One of the most difficult complications is colon cancer with liver metastasis.
Even though modern medicine has not yet determined the exact cause of the occurrence of this specific type of cancer, it was able to determine specific risk factors.
The most common ones include genetic predisposition and positive family history. The same goes for people from families where someone was suffering from Crohn’s disease or colon inflammation.
Some other risk factors include unhealthy lifestyle, especially lack of physical activity, smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity. Individuals dealing with diabetes have about 40% more chances to experience colon cancer. Women who were able to overcome breast and ovarian cancer have higher chances of developing colon cancer.
Identifying Early Colon Cancer Symptoms Can Be Difficult
The early colon cancer symptoms and signs are usually not followed by any symptoms and problems. In many cases, it takes years before they are manifested in any way. This is the reason why people over the age of 50 should perform screening of the colon once a year. The frequency of these tests should be higher in case there are more risk factors.
The later stages of this vicious disease bring the first visible symptoms, but they are not usually linked to colon cancer. These symptoms are different and they usually depend on the position of each tumor.
For example, large number people with colon cancer have diarrhea, bloody feces, chronic constipation, anemia, sharp pain, thin stool, stomach cramps etc. in addition, some people experience rapid weight loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constant fatigue and irritability.
The fact that patients visit the doctor’s office after they have reached advanced stages is another common problem associated with colon cancer. This is the period when healing this disease is much more difficult.
It is also good to know that individuals over the age of 50 are exposed the most although the number of people with colon cancer under the age of 40 is increasing rapidly.
Diagnosis of Colon Cancer
Once the doctor gets access to the complete medical documentation of the patient, they conduct series of tests. Blood test is a must in order to determine whether there is some kind of inflammatory process in the body and the level of iron and leukocytes in the body.
In case there is drastic lack of iron in the body, the doctor will suspect bleeding in the intestines.
One method to determine colon cancer presence is colonoscopy – an examination conducted with the help of a very thin tube with a small camera on top of it which allows the doctor to perform thorough examination of the situation inside the colon. Many people are afraid of this examination, but they are wrong because even though it sounds scary it is usually not painful at all.
Of course, it may be uncomfortable, but we should not forget that this examination is very useful. In addition to discovering colon cancer, colonoscopy can also identify polyps, anal fissures, hemorrhoids etc.
Colon cancer symptoms can also be diagnosed with the help of sigmoidoscopy – rectal examination. During this process, doctors can take small pieces of tissue for lab analysis. X-ray is another method for diagnosing colon cancer with the help of air and barium. This method today is usually replaced with CT colonography.
Colon cancer can be cured with pharmaceutical medications, diet changes and certain herbs and spices.