Breaking Down Colon Cancer
Colon cancer also referred as colorectal cancer and large bowel cancer is the cancer of large intestine (lower part of the digestive system). This is the development of cancer which usually arises from polyps in the colon, appendix and rectum. It is basically an abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to spread or invade to other parts of the body and after a certain period of time, these cells become colon cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer :
Symptoms and signs of colon cancer are many and needs to be cured by experts immediately.
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Worsening constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Alternating diarrhea
Types of colon cancer :
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors — This is a rare type of colon cancer, this begins in a cell which can be found in the gastrointestinal tract lining widely known as interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs). Tumors like these are also classified as Sarcomas that include muscles, nerves, deep skin tissues, bones, fat and cartilage.
- Melanomas — This type can happen anywhere and include rectum or colon. It is primarily related with skin.
- Squamous Cell Carcinomas — The end of the anus, the upper part of the esophagus and some other portions of the gastrointestinal tract are lined with squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinomas are those cancers which grow in these kind of cells.
- Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors — This sort of colon cancer is estimated by experts as a cancer which grow slowly. It begins in the neuroendocrine cell in the GI tract lining.
- Leiomyosarcomas — This kind of cancer typically means cancer of smooth muscles. This type is also considered as a rare type which accounts to only 0.01% of all colon cancer cases.
- Primary Colorectal Lymphomas — This type of cancer generally grows in the lymphatic system of cells (lymphocytes) also called as lymphomas. It develops in the later stages of life and are widely seen in men as compared to women.
Stages of colon cancer :
There are different stages of colon cancer, The stages are the reflection to know how far the cancer has spread.
- Stage 0 — This is the eraly stage of cancer. It is referred as Carcinoma and Situ. In this stage the cancer has not grown further than the ineer layer of the colon.
- Stage 1 — In this stage the cancer has not reached the lymph nodes or other organs but it has grown into the next layer of tissue.
- Stage 2 — The cancer in this stage has not spread beyond the colon but it has reached the outer layer of the colon
- Stage 3 — The cancer has grown through outer layers of the colon and it also has reached one to three lymph nodes. Yet, it has not touched the distant sites.
- Stage 4 — The cancer has reached tissues which are beyond the wall of the colon. As stage 4 builds up, the cancer reaches to distant parts of the human body.
Treatment of Colon Cancer :
The treatment depends on various factors like the stage of cancer, the age of patient, health status of patient and many other characteristics of the patients. However, there is no single treatment for any cancer, but the most common treatments used by surgeons are chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy — Chemotherapy is generally used to deal with colon cancer and its cells, certain types of medications are used to stop the growth of cancer cells or to destroy them completely. The injection of such drugs is directly done into a vein from where the cells enter to the bloodstream and travel inside the entire human body.
- Surgery — The preferred treatment for the people with localized cancer surrounding lymph nodes and tissues is a complete surgical removal with adequate margins in order to achieve a complete cure. Some of the type of surgeries include Pelvic Exenteration, Polypectomy and Local Excision.
- Radiation therapy — High energy beams are used to destroy the hazardous cancer cells. These high-energy gamma-rays helps to kill cancer cells and damage them completely. The radiation treatment is not often used until a patient reaches a later stage.
Colon cancer treatment in india is largely based on the stage of cancer and extent of it. There are generally three primary treatment options which are chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy helps patients to extend and improve their quality of life. Whereas, radiotherapy serves to reduce the pain.