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Are you in your 60s or 70s? Are you experiencing some abnormalities in your bowel movements? Is your stool narrow and blood-stained? If your answer to all these questions is yes, you better have yourself checked immediately for there is a very high chance of you developing a colon cancer.
Colon cancer, clinically called as colorectoral cancer, is the growth and spread of cancerous cells in the colon, rectum, and appendix. These cancerous cells form into tissues, and the mass then turns into a tumor. Tumor in colon cancer arises from the inner wall of the large intestine. If the tumor is benign, it is called polyp. If the tumor is malignant, then it is cancer.
Polyps do not reach the stage of metastasis. If detected and removed early enough, polyps can be prevented from being a threat to life and can be removed through colonoscopy. But if polyps are not removed early on, they eventually evolve into the malignant stage and can be very deadly. When the case is already malignant, the cancer cells are most likely to spread to tissues and other parts of the body, resulting in more damages. Colon cancer cells usually attack the liver and the lungs, and form new tumor growth in them.
Just like in most cancers, the medical field has not yet tracked the main cause of colon cancer. There are only known several factors that increase the risk of developing colon cancer. The most unavoidable of all is the predisposition of genetic structure. People from a family with cancer history are more likely to develop colon cancer, or any cancer at that. Genetics also play a big role in having colon cancer syndromes. First identified genetics-caused syndrome is the familial adenomatous polyposis or FAP. In FAP, affected family members develop countless numbers of colon polyps, starting in the teenage years. Unless the condition is detected and treated (treatment involves removal of the colon) early, a person with FAP is almost a hundred percent sure to develop full-blown colon cancer. The second genetics-caused syndrome is the attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis or AFAP. It is a milder version of FAP, where less than a hundred polyps develop in a person's body. Third is the hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer or HNPCC, where colon polyps develop in the right colon during early ages of 30 to 40. Last known genetics-caused syndrome is the MYH polyposis syndrome where 10-100 polyps occur around the age of 40.
What can further trigger the genetic factor in colon cancer are high-fat diets and unhealthy lifestyles. Studies have shown that a diet high in red meat and low in fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, and fish increases colorectal cancer risk. However, the link between high-fiber diet and lower risk of colon cancer still needs a lot of proving. Smoking, on the other hand, makes people more susceptible to develop not just lung cancer but colon cancer as well. In one study conducted by the American Cancer Society, it was found out that women smokers have 40% chances of dying from colon cancer than those women who do not smoke. The same goes for men smokers who are at a 30% higher risk level in contrast to men who do not or never smoked. High alcohol intake and physical inactivity are also known elements of lifestyle, increasing the risk of developing colon cancer.
Generally, abnormalities in a person's bowel movement is the major indicator or a possible colon cancer. But more symptoms can exist like fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer may have the same symptoms as that of colon cancer; so clinical diagnosis is necessary to really determine if the condition is colon cancer or not.
Surgery is the most availed treatment for this type of cancer. Tumor surgery has five classifications. First is the surgical treatment for localized tumor. This type of surgery may require full mesorectal excision (anterior resection) or abdominoperineal excision. In the second classification, palliative resection, the primary tumor is being removed to at least mitigate the damages its metastasis might cause. The proximal fecal diversion, the third classification, is for cases where excision is technically difficult to administer. This is done when the tumor has already invaded the surrounding vital structures of the colon. The fourth is the bypass (alternate to fecal diversion) and the last is the open-and-close surgery. The open-and-close surgery is administered in worst cases where the tumor is unresectable and resorting to other options is more harmful than beneficial. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy are the post-surgery support therapies being administered to reduce the chances of the cancer recurring.
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