Are you suffering from persistent constipation or diarrhea? Have you noticed a tinge of blood in your stool lately? Are you always tired and feeling fatigued? Are you experiencing weight loss, but have not been dieting or engaging in exercise routine? These and many other symptoms should necessitate a visit to a doctor.
Colon cancer is regarded as the second leading cause of most cancer deaths in the United States. Colon cancer is a long-standing disease, which starts as a polyp or a small non-cancerous growth. This small non-cancerous growth will slowly transforms itself into a malignant tumor over a period of 5 to 10 years. People in their thirties and forties are most often predisposed to colon cancer, amounting to about one-quarter of all colon cancer patients.
Colon cancer doesn’t show any visible symptoms during the early stages. During the later stages however, a person suffering with colon cancer may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:
1. Diarrhea or constipation that persists for a long time.
2. Unusual abdominal gas, or cramping.
3. Episodes of physical fatigue without known reasons.
4. Apparent loss weight and appetite.
5. Stools that are narrow, almost the diameter of a pencil.
6. Bloody stools.
7. There is pain and tenderness felt in the lower abdomen.
8. Changes in fecal diameter, color and frequency of movement lasting more than two weeks.
Although colon cancer claims to be second among the causes of cancer deaths, the frequency rate can be lowered if only its detection is done early. The polyps and early stage cancer that are discovered before any symptoms are produced most often offer a cure rate as high as 100 percent.
Your doctor should annually test your stool for hidden blood. A procedure called sigmoidoscopy can also be done to diagnose colon cancer. Sigmoidoscopy utilizes a flexible lighted tube with a camera that sits on its tip. This instrument is then inserted into the lower third of the colon. Observations reveal that almost half of all cancers in this area are found in the lower third portion of the colon. Another procedure called colonoscopy is done to check for growths throughout the entire length of the large intestine. An x-ray can also be an alternative diagnostic procedure. A barium enema is given to a patient. An opaque liquid fills the colon, which then becomes visible on X-ray film.
Colon cancer treatments may include chemotherapy and surgery. Those suffering from the advanced form of colon cancer may require chemotherapy. If surgery is the form of treatment, your surgeon will usually remove any polyps found during colonoscopy. If the detection of the tumor is done early, part of the colon affected with the tumor is removed surgically, the colon is restored back to its normal function, and complete healing is expected. However, if the cancer has already reached a wide area including the colon wall, lymph and blood vessels, chemotherapy is thus required. If the cancer involves a large tumor, temporary or permanent colostomy may be required. Re-routing the colon through an opening in the abdomen does this. The wastes pass through the opening and into a pouch outside the patient’s body.