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Symptoms and Treatment of Colon Cancer

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sunny Jandyal 90% (79 ratings)
MD - General Medicine, D.M. Medical oncology
Oncologist, Delhi  •  8 years experience
Symptoms and Treatment of Colon Cancer

Diarrhea and constipation and common digestive ailments but if these persist for over 4 weeks, it could be a sign of colon cancer. Colon cancer refers, to a type of cancer that affects the lower half of the digestive system and the large intestines. In most cases, this type of cancer begins in the form of small adenomatous polyps. However, with time, these polyps turn cancerous.

As mentioned above a change in bowel movements is one of the main signs of colon cancer. Some of the other common symptoms include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Cramps or pain in the abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A feeling of not having completely emptied your bowel

The symptoms of colon cancer vary according to the stage of the cancer. In its early stages, many patients may not recognize any symptoms. Symptoms also depend on the location of the cancer tumour.

Colon cancer can affect men and women but elderly people are considered at a higher risk for this disease as compared to others. For this reason screening for colon cancer is considered part of a routine health checkup for people over the age of 50. Certain genetic syndromes can also increase a person’s risk of colon cancer. Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, low fiber diet, smoking and alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of colon cancer.

Colon cancer can be treated. Treatment depends largely on the stage of cancer. There are 4 stages of colon cancer.

  1. Stage I: In this stage, the cancer would have grown through the lining of the colon but is restricted to being within the rectum and colon wall.
  2. Stage II: Here, the cancer grows past the colon walls but does not yet spread to the lymph nodes.
  3. Stage III: At this stage, cancer can be detected in the lymph nodes surrounding the colon and large intestines
  4. Stage IV: This is an advanced stage of cancer where it would have begun to affect other organs such as the lungs and liver.

Treatment for colon cancer typically takes three forms; surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

In the case of early stage colon cancer, minimally invasive surgery may be suggested to remove the polyps and resection the colon walls. If it has turned invasive, a partial colectomy may be performed or an artificial route for waste matter may be created. In most cases, surgery will be followed by chemotherapy or radiation to kill the remaining cancer cells.

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