Introduction Colorectal cancer, more commonly known as colon cancer, is a common form of cancer; It is the third most common type of cancer and the second most lethal. It is fairly common due to the numerous causes and contact with foreign substances. Cancer is the condition of where cells do not cease mitosis, and continue to duplicate in tumors. If the cancer cells do not metastasize, spread to other parts of the body, they are said to be benign. Benign tumors are not extremely harmful until they metastasize and become malignant.
Colorectal cancer can be located either in the rectum or colon. The stages range from I to IV, with I being the least advanced and harmful to IV being the worst, as it has metastasized. It can be cured if it is caught early enough. Causes and Risk Factors There are quite a few things that contribute to this condition. As with most cancers, the risk increases with time and a family history of colon cancer. Men are more likely to get it than women, with African-American men having the highest risk in the United States. Smokers and physically inactive people have higher risk.
Diets that are high in fiber, fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of this. However, diets high in red meat and fat have an increased risk. Hereditary conditions that will increase the risk of colon cancer include a general family history, Familial adenomatous polyposis, and Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Familial adenomatous polyposis increases the risk of developing colon cancer to almost certain. The disorder causes a person to have thousands of polyps, causing from an early age anemia due to the loss of blood in the feces.
Later on, the person will most likely develop cancer. Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer is also called Lynch Syndrome. Lifetime risk is approximately 80%, it also increase risks of numerous other cancer in the digestive tract and otherwise. Symptoms and Diagnosis Symptoms may be full on and complete or could be nearly nonexistent. Symptoms include a change in bowel patterns, blood in feces, and bowel obstruction by the tumor. Blood is usually the best indicator because it is specific to colon cancer. Bowel obstruction is fairy rare, other symptoms would usually show before this.
Other symptoms that are not necessarily associated with colon cancer include weight loss, anemia, and enlargement of the liver. The length of time needed to develop colon cancer is long enough so the best medicine is early diagnosis, so there are numerous ways to diagnose. Screening can be done by fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are by far the most popular to diagnose with, as it is a lighted probe that can also remove polyps during the procedure. It is similar to a sigmmoidoscopy, although it only goes into the lower colon and can not remove polyps.
Virtual colonoscopy is a noninvasive procedure that uses x-rays to find colon cancer. The effectiveness of it is getting better but is not at the level of a real colonoscopy. The fecal blood test less useful because it can find polyps but it can be an indicator of colon cancer. Genetic or hereditary testing will help find out if a person has a disorder linked to colon cancer or if they have a general predisposition. Discovering malignancy is done using different procedures. Blood tests can detect the levels of certain proteins which may indicate metastasizing.
Positron emission tomography uses radioactive sugar injected into the body that in conjunction with 3d imaging can show where the malignant, metabolically active cancer cells are. Digital rectal exam can find tumors that are large enough to be felt. Standard computed axial tomography uses 3d computer imaging to find the extent of spread cancer. It is not sensitive enough to find polyps. Treatment The first way to treat colon cancer is by surgery. This is for cancer that has not metastasized yet. A colonoscopy can be done for the earlier stages but after the cancer has developed enough, deeper surgery must be used.
Usually this involved taking out part of the colon and fusing together the remaining parts. Rare complications include infection, abscess, fistula or bowel obstruction. Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is the most effective for malignant cancers. Usually this takes place after surgery to stop any metastasis from occurring. It can also be used by itself or at other times, like before surgery. There are some remedies but they are unproven but probably won’t do any harm. They include ginger, curcumin, mistletoe extract, and acupuncture.