- by Medikoe Health Expert
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- Feb 09 2017
What are the Early Signs of Colon Cancer
The colon or large intestine is where the body extracts water and salt from solid wastes. The waste then moves through the rectum and exits the body through the anus. The colon is about 6 feet long.
Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer starts when the process of the normal replacement of colon lining cells goes away. Cells begin to divide independently and growth of cells is altered completely. As these abnormal cells grow and divide, they can lead to growths within the colon polyps.
Once colorectal cancer forms, it begins to grow in two ways. First, cancer can grow locally and extend through the wall of the intestine and invade adjacent structures, making the mass more of a problem and harder to remove. Colorectal cancers most commonly spread first to local lymph nodes before traveling to distant organs after that it spread to the liver, the abdominal cavity, and the lung are the next most common destinations of metastatic spread.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and nonspecific. They include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhea red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease.
The right colon is wider and more flexible. Cancers of the right colon can grow to large sizes before they cause any abdominal symptoms. Due to the slow loss of blood over a long period of time right-sided colon cancer cause iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia causes fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. The left colon is narrower than the right colon.
A physician will ask about personal and family medical histories and will carry out a complete physical exam.
- Colonoscopy: To inspect the inside of the colon a long, flexible tube with a camera on one end is inserted into the rectum.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Used to examine a smaller portion of the colorectal area.
- Double-contrast barium enema: This x-ray procedure uses a liquid called barium to provide clearer imaging results than a standard x-ray can give. Before a barium enema, the patient must fast for several hours.
Treatment will depend on the type and stage of cancer, and the age, health status, and other characteristics of the patient. There is no single treatment for any cancer, but the most common options for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
“For prevention of colon cancer, annual screening is recommended for men and women aged 50 to 75 years, especially since symptoms may not appear until cancer has progressed.”
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