Colon cancer is said to affect up to one in every 22 individuals throughout their lifespan. Cancer reports that men are more prone to develop this kind of cancer, with 4.7% of men being affected by this cancer during their life, compared to 4.4% of women. While almost 70% of patients do survive for a five-year period after being diagnosed with colon cancer, the cancer still results in death among numerous individuals each year – with as much as 49,190 estimated deaths to occur during 2016.
Fortunately, it is also reported that the number of deaths associated with colon cancer have been decreasing over the past few years. This decline in colon cancer deaths are largely due to the recent advancements in cancer-fighting treatment options.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
When you consider the symptoms of colon cancer, it is important to realize that this type of cancer is often also accompanies and associated with rectum cancer. For this reason, many studies also monitor these two types of cancers in combination when seeking effective remedies.
Colon Club reports that is it also vital to understand that sometimes no symptoms are present during the early stages when this cancer starts to develop, but in many cases symptoms do show.
Fight Colon Cancer reports that a change in bowel activity that does not seem to go away may be one of the earliest signs of colon cancer. This may include constipation and diarrhea. Furthermore, they report that stools may be narrower and be accompanied by blood.
Rectal bleeding and frequent abdominal cramps may also be a sign that colon cancer is developing, or already present. Apart from these symptoms, an overall weak feeling, sudden weight loss and fatigue may also accompany the more obvious symptoms of colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Treatment Options
Colon cancer can be treated and as much as 65% of patients survive through the first five years after being diagnosed with this cancer. Recent developments in treatment options, as well as breakthroughs in scientific research, have also made the treatment options available to colon cancer patients much more reliable and effective.
Before taking a look at the treatment options that are available to colon cancer patients, it is also important to realize that there are three stages of colon cancer and that each of these stages are treated differently. It is important to obtain the surgery that will work best for your specific case and for the specific advancement of your colon cancer.
- Early-stage cancer of the colon – this is when the cancer within the colon is relatively small
- Invasive cancer of the colon – this is when the cancer has grown through (or into) the colon
- Advanced cancer of the colon – this is when the cancer has advanced to a stage where curing is not possible, but treatment options can be used to relief the symptoms
When cancer in the colon is detected at an early stage, a surgical option is usually recommended in order to remove the cancer and avoid it from spreading any further or causing additional harm.
This is also usually the best option in order to get rid of the cancer as quickly as possible. There are three different types of surgeries that can be used for colon cancer diagnosed in an early stage.
The first option is usually performed when the cancer is still relatively small. During this procedure, polyps are removed through colonoscopy. Many cancer patients with colon cancer have been able to completely get rid of their cancer through this option, but it is important to note that only smaller polyps can be removed through this method.
The second option is recommended when the polyps have grown a bit larger. This option involved an endoscopic mucosal resection procedure and often also requires the doctor to take away a small part of the colon’s lining as well.
The third option is recommended when the polyps cannot be removed through colonoscopy. During this procedure, the polyps will be removed through laparoscopic surgery.
Invasive Colon Cancer
If the cancer within the colon becomes bigger and grows through or into the colon, a different route needs to be taken. These procedures are more invasive than those performed when colon cancer is detected in an early stage, but, unfortunately, the early-stage treatment options would not be effective in this case.
A partial colectomy is usually the first option when colon cancer becomes invasive. During this procedure, the part of the colon affected by the cancer is removed, as well as a part of the healthy tissue surrounding the infected part. After the procedure, the two separate parts of the colon is reconnected.
If the partial colectomy procedure is not possible, a colostomy is usually the next option. During this procedure, a part of the colon’s wall will be opened and connected to a special bag. The process of eliminating body waste then works towards this special bag.
This procedure is often performed as a temporary solution in order to allow the colon to thoroughly heal after surgery have been performed. In some cases, the colectomy procedure is also a permanent solution.
In cases where the cancer has advanced too much, a cure may not be available anymore. This often leads a doctor to recommend procedures that would relief the symptoms and discomfort caused by the colon cancer.
The options available to patients with an advanced stage of colon cancer usually includes targeted drug therapy, where specialized drugs are provided to the patient in order to fight against defects that are causing cancerous cells to grow.
These drugs include vectibix, stivarga, zaltrap, avastin, cyramza and Erbitux. Alternative medicines are also recommended at times, which may include meditation, exercise, relaxation exercises, movement therapy and music therapy. Apart from these, palliative care may also be recommended.
Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy
While the above mentioned procedures are usually the recommended options for patients diagnosed with colon cancer, it is important to remember that both chemotherapy and radiation therapy also exist. Chemotherapy is a drug that aims to destroy cancerous cells. It is often provided to patients after surgery, in cases where the cancer has spread to lymph nodes around the infected part.
Radiation therapy takes advantage of energy sources to kill cancer cells. This therapy option is usually used to destroy cancerous cells that are still present after surgery, but can also be used to reduce a tumor’s size before surgery is conducted.
Colon cancer can cause a variety of problems in the human body and even lead to death. While the survival rate of this cancer is considered relatively high, it is still important to realize the symptoms and to seek diagnosis at an early stage for the best results. Choosing a treatment options should be closely discussed with a qualified healthcare professional and should be efficient for the size and advancement of each individual’s specific case.