Cancer, in any form, is a deadly disease that requires immediate attention and treatment. Colon cancer is a common form of the disease, with over 10 lakh people reportedly affected in India each year.
In some cases, surgery is the only remedy for colon cancer. Depending on the progression of your cancer, if surgery becomes necessary, you should consider undergoing laparoscopic surgeries.
What is a laparoscopic surgery?
While most surgeries are open, where a large incision is made on the body to operate on the internal organs and tissues, it’s not the same with laparoscopic surgery. Here very small incisions are made on a particular body part to carry out the surgery. The procedure gets its name from the equipment used in the operation. A laparoscope is a tube-like instrument that has a camera on one end. During the surgery, this laparoscope is inserted in the patient’s body and the image relayed back by the camera is used to perform the surgery.
In case of laparoscopic colon cancer surgeries, the surgeon uses the same method to reach your the cancerous mass in your colon and remove it.
Why choose laparoscopic colon cancer surgeries?
As a person affected by cancer, you have already endured substantial pain and discomfort. You do not need additional discomfort from your surgery. This is why laparoscopic surgeries are so popular when it comes to colon cancer. Here are some benefits of the procedure over the standard surgery.
• Less pain after the surgery
• Limited stay at the hospital post surgery
• Allows you to return to a solid food diet sooner after the surgery
• Allows normal bowel function to resume quicker
• Less scaring from the procedure
• Faster return to a normal lifestyle
Not everyone is eligible for open surgery to treat colon cancer. For instance, open surgery on elderly people can be extremely dangerous. For them, laparoscopic surgeries are a better alternative.
Are you eligible for laparoscopic surgery?
Before you opt for laparoscopic surgery to treat your colon cancer, consult an expert. The surgeon will help you understand whether you meet the requirements for laparoscopic surgeries. Your doctor will evaluate your case and let you know which procedure will have the maximum impact on your long-term recovery from cancer.
Is laparoscopic surgery as effective in treating colon cancer as open surgery?
According to a study performed by a Canadian team of researchers, the laparoscopic procedure is just as useful in treating colon cancer as the standard surgery. However, each case of colon cancer is different and the outcome of surgery may vary from person to person.
Colon cancer is believed to be one of the common types of cancer affecting people. As the name suggests, here, the point of origin of the cancer is the colon or the large intestine. Though colon cancer can affect anyone, people with unhealthy lifestyle (sedentary) and habits (excess smoking and consumption of alcohol), obesity, certain medical conditions like diabetes, or exposed to radiations (radiation therapy) are at a greater risk of colon cancer. Colon cancer may also be hereditary.
Colon cancer usually proceeds through five stages, stage 0 (zero), stage I, II, III and IV.
Many of the symptoms do not appear at the initial stages. As a result, colon cancer mostly gets detected at a later (often metastatic) stage. Thus, a person should be alert. The initial symptoms, no matter how trivial, should be taken seriously. There is no harm in seeking medical help. It will only help you in the long run.
The following symptoms are often the initial or first signs of something as big as colon cancer:
Constipation refers to infrequent, painful bowel movements that are hard to pass. It is a common digestive issue, affecting about 22% of Indians. Although constipation is likely to affect all age groups, elderly people above age 65 suffer the most.
A person is said to have constipation under the following conditions –
• Fewer than three bowel movements in a week
• Trouble passing stools
• Having dry, hard, unusually large stools The reasons why people get constipation include a poor diet that lacks fibre and fluids, inadequate exercise, and stress.
A person with constipation might experience the following symptoms –
• Pain or strain during a bowel movement
• Bouts of blood in the stool
Fortunately, constipation is avoidable and curable on most occasions. However, some of the symptoms may be an indication of a more severe condition that calls for immediate medical attention. One such condition is colon polyps.
What are colon polyps?
Colon polyps show up as small clusters of cells in the lining of the colon wall. These develop when there is a loss of control in the way cells grow and divide. Environmental factors, poor diet, genetics and others contribute to the loss of control.
The link between Chronic Constipation and Colon Polyps
Doctors suggest, your diet has a lot to do with constipation leading to colon polyps. Constipation results from not eating enough fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and consuming foods that are high in fats (red meat, eggs, dairy) instead.
In constipation, the colon muscles contract too slow or sluggishly, making it difficult for the stool to pass smoothly through the colon. Chronic constipation that lasts for more than a week may be an indication of colon polyps. A large colon polyp that blocks your bowel can further induce unbearable abdominal pain and cramps.
Although colon polyps are usually benign, on rare occasions, they can later lead to cancer of the colon.
Doctors recommend eating a healthy diet that incorporates calcium, fibre, and vitamin D, as it will help you heal from chronic constipation and lower your risk of developing colon polyps. Nevertheless, consult a proctologist and seek treatment if the problem persists despite following a balanced diet.
Colonoscopy is a testing method that helps a doctor to witness the inner lining of the large intestine. A thin tube known as the colonoscope is used to perform this test. The distinct advantage of this test is the fact that unlike another test, a colonoscopy gives a full view of the rectum and the full colon. This procedure is often used by doctors to eradicate polyps and perform a biopsy.
Detection and eradication of polyps-A polyp size, which has a diameter of more than 1 cm call for a full examination of the colon. Although many doctors suggest colonoscopy with a polyp that is less than 1 cm due to the presence of cancer cells present in preexisting polyps. Colonoscopy is preferred over other tests due to their unique ability to distinguish between malignant and benign structures. It is also very effective in searching for lesions and effectively brings out samples to perform a biopsy.
The lower part of the digestive system is known as the large intestine (colon), and colon cancer is the name given to the type of cancer that affects it. The rectal cancer is the cancer that affects the last few inches of the colon. Collectively they are known as colorectal cancers. In most of the cases, small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps are formed in the intestine. They are not harmful on their own, but over a period, they enlarge to become colon cancers. Let us have a look at the early symptoms.
Polyps and its symptoms
Polyps are very small and do not display symptoms on their own. Doctors advise regular screening test to find polyps and destroy them before they can aggravate to colon cancer. In most of the cases, the symptoms start to appear only in the advanced levels. These include:
The symptoms vary drastically depending on the size of cancer and the location in the large intestine. It is advisable to consult an oncologist if the symptoms mentioned above persist and it is also mandatory to have regularized screening after the age of 50.
There are also certain important factors that have to be looked that may increase the risk of colon cancer. These include:
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition whereby tiny abscesses and ulcers are formed on the inner lining of the large intestine, or on the colon or rectum. These ulcers may burst frequently resulting in diarrhea and bloody stools. This disease may also be responsible for causing anemia as well as harsh abdominal pain.
Ulcerative colitis normally alternates periodically from flaring up to receding quickly. These periods of remission can either last for weeks or maybe, even for years at a stretch. They are, however, not permanent and although the disease may seem to have disappeared completely, it can soon show up again in no time. Usually beginning in the rectum, it can by and by, spread rapidly to other parts of the colon. If it is, however, limited only to the rectum, then it is more commonly referred to as ulcerative proctitis.
Here are the different types of surgery that you may undergo:
1. Colectomy: This is done when the entire colon needs to be removed and is usually performed to eliminate the perils of acquiring colon cancer.
2. Proctocolectomy: This concerns the total removal of both colon and rectum, and is usually the standard procedure when dealing with ulcerative colitis.
3. Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis: If the treatment does not require a permanent stoma, and if you can still manage to let out stool from your anus, then this surgery, also called restorative proctolectomy, would be most appropriate. Here, both colon and rectum are removed but at the same time, the small intestine is utilized to form an internal reservoir, called a J-pouch, which is linked to the anus and can hereafter serve as your new rectum.
Obesity can make life miserable. From unhealthy eating habits to unhealthy lifestyles and medical conditions, obesity can be an amalgamation of many factors. Obese people are at a greater risk of suffering from many serious health complications like type-2 diabetes, mood swings, and depression, cardiac problems, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name a few. It does not stop there. More alarming is the fact that obese people are at increased risk of suffering from different types of cancer.
Bariatric surgery comes as a saviour for highly obese people (with a BMI over 40), who have tried every possible treatment under the sun to lose weight without any success. Bariatric surgery has helped many severely obese people attain a healthy weight. Bariatric surgery can be of three types;
Research also suggests that bariatric surgery has been instrumental in reducing the chances of cancer (especially colon and breast cancer) by as much as 60%. The correlation between weight loss and reduced cancer instances is still a debatable topic. Some researchers and oncologists believe that the weight loss (bariatric surgery) brings about a hormonal modification which prevents the growth of tumour cells. Another study links obesity with increased inflammation. In many cases, inflammation acts as a catalyst, accelerating the growth of cancer cells. Research is still going on to understand this correlation (obesity and reduced cancer rates) better.
Bariatric surgery has its share of risks and demerits. Consult your physician and get yourself thoroughly examined before opting for the surgery.
Cancer is the biggest menace humans have to encounter at this point in time. It is an issue that afflicts thousands of people worldwide and to this day this is no particular cure for this epidemic affliction. It’s an ugly disease that makes people suffer, drains every resource they own and puts a humongous strain not only on the patient, but also on everyone surrounding them, and interpersonal relationships. Cancer is a disease that progresses in stages and that is why it is important to get checked regularly. In case you are unfortunate enough to have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, as it is commonly known, here is a quick guide to the different stages and how to proceed.
Stage Zero: It is also called carcinoma in situ. This is the earliest stage where the cancerous cells have not spread beyond the inner lining of the rectum or colon.
What to do: Stage zero colon cancer means that it hasn’t spread beyond the colon to other organs or areas so it only just requires surgery to remove the cancerous cells. This is called local excision performed using a colonoscope.
Stage One: This stage is where cancer has spread further into the lining of the colon but has not reached the outside walls of the colon or any other area for that matter.
What to do: If the cancer was removed at stage zero as a unit (the polyp) and nothing was left behind then nothing further needs doing. Although if the polyp is “high grade” then more surgery will be required, additionally if some get left behind after the first surgery then more will be required. Cancers that have developed otherwise require removing of a part of the colon, a partial colectomy.
Stage Two: The stage where cancer has advanced through the lining into growing over the walls of the colon but has not proceeded towards the lymph nodes.
What to do: Requires surgery, partial colectomy along with removing some of the surrounding lymph nodes. Chemotherapy post-surgery may be suggested by your doctor. Discuss before you agree to it.
Stage Three: Cancer has spread beyond the wall of the colon and reached the surrounding lymph nodes. It has not yet spread to other areas of the body or organs.
What to do: Partial colectomy including post-surgery chemotherapy but if the patient is not strong enough for surgery they are suggested chemotherapy or radiation therapy as an alternative.
Stage Four: Cancer has spread widely to several organs, to the liver, lungs, and even to the brain.
What to do: Surgery will not do much good, unless it can be used to remove the specific areas where the cancer is clustered. Mostly it is suggested to alleviate the pain but there is a chance that surgery might cure you too. Chemotherapy is absolutely required.
In stages 2, 3 and 4 there is an emerging role of targeted therapies along with the traditional chemotherapy. The same are chosen on the basis of biomarkers. In liver metastases, there is now a strong role for SBRT to liver lesions for high local control and potential cure in many. SBRT is a valuable alternative to liver surgery.
Colon polyp removal, also known as colon polypectomy, refers to the removal of abnormally grown tissues from the mucous membrane or the inside lining of the large intestine or colon. Since there are some particular types of polyps that tend to develop into cancer, early removal of polyps through surgery is essential, once diagnosed. Like every surgery, colon polyp removal has its own set of post-op guidelines to aid recovery and avoid risks and complications.
The procedure of polyp removal surgery is non-invasive and is typically carried out at the same time when performing colonoscopy or examination of the large intestines. However, there are a few recovery tips that can be helpful in ensuring fast recovery after polypectomy.
Let's have a look at them here.
One needs to be aware of the fact that depending on the acceptance of and response of the patient's body to a colon polyp removal surgery and of course their physical health, the recovery time may vary. However, the more careful a patient is in following the post-surgery recovery tips, the quicker he or she may resume the daily activities. Usually, in the majority of cases, it takes around two to three weeks to recover from a colon polyp removal surgery completely.
Cancer in colon forms due to uncontrolled cell growth in the large intestine cells. Most colon cancers originate from the healthy cells in the lining of the colon that grow into tumours called adenomatous polyps. These polyps can be cancerous or benign.
A cancerous tumor is malignant and may spread to the other parts of the body by travelling through blood and lymph systems, this process is known as metastasis. Whereas a benign tumour can grow but don’t necessarily spread to other parts of the body. It takes years for these changes to develop depending upon both genetic and environmental causes.
Causes and risk factors:
In a healthy body, the cells normally grow, divide and then die. Cancer is the result of uncontrollable cell growth where the cells do not die. Aging is one of the important risk factors for colon cancer; other risk factors include a family history of colon cancer. As per Johns LE and Houlston RS individuals with a family history of colon cancer have a high risk of developing this form of cancer as compared to those with no such history.
A study conducted by Giovannucci and others in 1995, successfully established the relation between physical activity, obesity and colon cancer. As per the research lack of physical activities elevates the chance of getting colon cancer. Individuals who regularly smoke, are obese and use aspirin have a higher risk of developing this form of cancer. Diet is also an important factor, diets that are high in fat and low in fiber may elevate the risk.
The symptoms of colon cancer are varied, depending upon the condition of the tumor. At the early stage, patients may experience no symptoms. However, as cancer grows, symptoms arise. Diarrhea or constipation are common; patients may see changes in stool consistency and narrower stool. Abdominal discomfort, bloating, fullness and cramps may also indicate colon cancer. Sudden weight loss and unexplained iron deficiency (anemia) are also associated with this form of cancer. If these symptoms last for several weeks, don’t hesitate to consult your physician.
Colon cancer is highly treatable and depends on the type and the stage of cancer along with health and other characteristics of the patient. However, there is no single treatment; the most common options are – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The surgery for colon cancer is known as colectomy and involves removing the affected part of the colon and the adjoining areas including nearby lymph nodes. Chemotherapy involves killing the cancer cells by utilizing certain chemicals that interfere the cell division process and damage the proteins or DNA. In the radiation therapy, high-energy gamma rays are used to target and destroy the cancer cells. Radiotherapy can be used both as a standalone treatment and also along with other treatments.