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