Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a condition that affects the last part of the digestive system, namely the colon. The colon plays a crucial role in extracting water and salt from solid waste. In the case of colon cancer, abnormal growths called tumours develop in the colon. These tumours typically start as harmless growths known as polyps, which are clusters of cells that have the potential to become cancerous over time. Although colon cancer is more prevalent among older adults, it can also occur in younger individuals who have a strong family history of bowel cancer.
If you experience symptoms related to colon cancer or have a family history of bowel cancers, it is essential to undergo a colonoscopy at an early stage. To schedule a colonoscopy, please get in touch with any of our local specialists.
We hope that with appropriate care and attention, early detection of colon cancer symptoms can lead to timely treatment and a more favourable outcome. If you experience any of the following symptoms persistently, we urge you to promptly schedule an appointment with our gastroenterologist in your area:
– Rectal bleeding or the presence of blood in your stool
– Sudden changes in bowel movements, such as constipation, diarrhea, or alterations in stool consistency
– Persistent abdominal discomfort, including cramps, gas, or pain
– Fatigue and weakness accompanying any of the above symptoms
– A sensation of incomplete bowel emptying
– Pain during bowel movements
– Frequent urges to defecate
– Certain factors can increase your risk of developing colon cancer, including:
– Age: Colon cancer is typically diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50, although cases among younger people are rising.
– Family history: Having a personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps raises your risk.
– Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Chronic diseases like Crohn’s disease and colitis can elevate the risk of colon cancer.
– Unhealthy diet: Consuming a low-fiber, high-fat, and high-calorie diet, often associated with a typical Western eating pattern, has been linked to an increased likelihood of colon cancer.
Colon cancer can be categorised into different stages based on its progression and spread. Here are the stages of colon cancer:
Stage 1 colon cancer: At this stage, the cancer has grown either through the inner lining of the bowel or into the muscle wall. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant parts of the body.
Stage 2 colon cancer: The cancer has spread beyond the inner layers of the bowel and into the outer wall or adjacent tissues and organs. However, it has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant parts of the body.
Stage 3 colon cancer: At this stage, the cancer has advanced and spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it has not reached distant body parts.
Stage 4 colon cancer: This is an advanced stage where the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. It is also known as advanced bowel cancer.
The survival rates vary depending on the stage of colon cancer. Stage 1 colon cancer typically has a 90% 5-year survival rate, whereas Stage 4 colon cancer has a lower survival rate of around 14% over 5 years.
It’s important to note that if the cancer is detected early and confined to a few cancerous polyps, the removal of these polyps can result in very high survival rates.
We highly recommend participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme when invited. If you have a family history of colon cancer or experience symptoms, we advise contacting a specialist at The Gut Clinic UK in your local area to arrange a colonoscopy.
The treatment approach for colon cancer can vary depending on the stage of the cancer. While each case is unique, prevention is the most effective strategy against colon cancer.
Colon cancer stands out as a type of cancer that can be prevented. It initially develops as polyps, which can be removed, significantly reducing the risk of cancer-related fatalities.
Treatment for Stage 1 colon cancer:
If a colonoscopy successfully removes the polyp without any cancer cells detected at the edges, further treatment may not be necessary. In some cases of stage I cancer, surgery might be required, but chemotherapy is typically not recommended.
Treatment for Stage 2 colon cancer:
Generally, stage II colon cancer involves surgical removal of the affected section of the colon or nearby lymph nodes containing cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy after surgery) might also be recommended by your specialist.
Treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer:
For this stage of colon cancer, the standard treatment involves a partial colectomy (removal of a portion of the colon) followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.
Treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer:
At this advanced stage, where the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected parts in the colon and other organs. Additionally, chemotherapy is typically administered both before and after surgery.
Please note that the specific treatment plan for colon cancer should be discussed with your healthcare provider, as they will consider your individual circumstances and provide personalised recommendations.
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