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Colon Cancer


Colon is last 4 to 6 feet of your intestine and is an organ that helps eliminate solid waste from your body. Colon cancer is one of the leading cause of cancer deaths. Last 6 inches of colon near anus is called Rectum and it's commonest site of cancer amongst all colon cancer. 25% of colon cancers have familial or genetic predisposition and 75% are sporadic ones.

Cancer means growth which carries malignant potential and not all growths are cancers. Growth in the colon can be polyp, lipoma, tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease, benign tumours or cancers. The differentiation of other benign causes needs good clinical acumen as well as correlation with imaging, endoscopy and biopsies.

FAQs

1What causes colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a disease caused by an interaction of genes and certain lifestyle factors (smoking, diet, etc). Genes are part of DNA present within each cells of body. Cancer arises when genes controlling cell growth stop working normally.

There are many factors that may increase the risk of developing colo-rectal cancer. To list a few:

  • Age over 50 years
  • Obesity and physical inactivity
  • Having pre-cancerous polyp in colon
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Tobacco, smoking and heavy alcohol use
  • Type II diabetes
  • 2What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
    Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease and cancer gets detected on routine health checks and screening colonoscopies.

    Anaemia caused by loss of blood in stool due to ooze from tumour which gets undetected to naked eye and many times found on laboratory examination of stool for occult blood. Some people experience symptoms contributed by anaemia like easy fatiguability, lethargy, breathlessness etc.

    Many people experience alarming features like loss of appetite and weight loss which prompt them for evaluation.

    Some may have symptoms like abdominal bloating, pain or discomfort along with altered bowel habits like constipation, diarrhoea or bloody stool and those who presents with such obstructive features usually have advanced disease.
    3How is colon cancer diagnosed?
    If your symptoms indicate that you could have colon cancer, your doctor may recommend blood tests, stool examination, colonoscopy, barium enema x-ray, or computerized tomography (CT) scan to help make a diagnosis.

    Colonoscopy is an endoscopic procedure for visualisation of colon, where colonoscope (flexible tube contains camera chip and channels to take biopsy) is inserted via anal canal under direct visual guidance. Colonoscopy helps to visualise growth directly and to check it’s location and extent along with to take biopsy samples which are tiny tissue fragments. Biopsies are then evaluated in laboratory under microscope to know nature of tumour and it’s characteristic with malignant potential.

    If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, your doctor will then order tests to determine the extent, or stage, of your cancer like CT, MRI or PET scan. Staging helps determine what treatments are most appropriate for you.
    4How is colon cancer treated?
    Depending on the stage of colon cancer, treatment may include surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
    5What is colonic stenting?
    Colonic stents are made of metal and deployed via colonoscope under fluoroscopic guidance for palliative management of colon cancer means to relieve obstructive symptoms where surgery is not feasible.
    6When to seek medical advice:
    Talk with your doctor right away if you notice a change in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, blood in or on the stool, Stomach pain or bloating, loss of appetite or weight loss.

    A Centre for Comprehensive GI Care