What Is Colon Cancer?

Posted on | Sunday, December 25, 2011 |

Colorectal Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells or tumor formation in the giant intestine (massive bowel or colon) and the rectum. These cells can spread (metastasize) and damage other tissues or organs in the body; thus, often called cancer cells. Fundamentally, the colon serves as storage site for the feces before being excreted from the body, while the rectum is the distal finish of the colon that is adjoining to the anus. These structures of the digestive tract are the main sites for Colorectal Cancer, but cancer cells can also metastasize to the liver, lungs and other vital organs. Consequently, injury to the different body organs caused by cancer cells leads to several organ dysfunctions that can result to a person’s death.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is of the leading causes of death across the globe, in Western countries such as the United States. In fact, in year 2008, 13 percent (13%) or 7.6 million of the total deaths of people worldwide is due to cancer. Among over hundred types of malignancies, Colorectal Cancer lands at the fourth spot of the most common cancers among men and ladies.

The most common causes of cancer are as follows
• genetic or hereditary origin;
• High dietary fat intake;
• low-fiber diet (low vegetable and fruit consumption)
• polyps (non-cancerous tumor) that are not removed from the colon; and
• Ulcerative colitis

Studies revealed that people with relatives history of colon cancer are high risk of developing the disease. Another cause of colon cancer is high overweight dietary intake. Various researches show that the metabolism (breakdown) of fats results to the production of free radicals or carcinogens, which are substances that cause cancer. Meanwhile, low fiber dietary intake is usually associated with poor bowel movement resulting to diminished ability of the body to eliminate waste products including carcinogens. Cancer in the colon and rectum is also believed to be a complication of Chronic Ulcerative Colitis (bowel inflammatory disease) and polyps that have not been removed.

An individual with colon and rectal cancer will experience signs and symptoms that are also commonly observed to other bowel disorders and some of which are non-specific. These manifestations include:
• diarrhea (constipation and stool reduced if the tumor obstructs passageway for feces);
• abdominal pain, bloating or cramps;
• sudden weight loss
• fresh or old red blood, dark blood in stools leading to anemia
• body weakness or fatigue; and
• Shortness of breath

Hence, specific diagnostic exams are conducted to select presence of colon cancer such as GI series and Colonoscopy. The confirmatory check for cancer is biopsy. This procedure is completed by taking sample tissues from the colon in the coursework of colonoscopy and studying them through a microscope. Then, another series of diagnostic exams including chest x-ray, ultrasonography of the whole abdomen or CAT scan of the lungs and abdomen are performed to confirm spread of colon cancer cells to other organs in the body. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a cancer marker may even be used to select cancer metastasis through blood check.

Moreover, the most definitive treatment for colorectal cancer is surgical procedure, in which the affected bowel is cut and removed and the unaffected parts are connected. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may even be part of the treatment plan depending on the stage of cancer.

In general, there’s treatments for colorectal cancer, but they are merely intended to relieve the signs and palliative signs. Regrettably, cancer remains incurable. A person can live for months or years after the diagnosis of cancer, but is always in danger of premature death, even in the presence of a palliative treatment. Like all other types of cancer, having colon cancer is a sobering diagnosis. However, awareness of the disease is what makes people more alert about health issues.


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