Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in the USA, and the number of patients is increasing each year.
Colon cancer occurs when a tumor appears inside the colon or the rectum. Two types of tumors can form inside the large intestine (the colon together with the rectum form the large intestine) – benign tumors and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are called polyps, and they can easily be surgically removed without any complications. However, in many cases benign tumors are not discovered, and in time they turn into malignant tumors. Malignant tumors are tumors that evolve and spread very fast and can cause death.
If a polyp that's inside the colon has just turned into a malignant tumor, then colon cancer appears. In this early stage it can be treated and cured without any problems, but the existence of the tumor does not cause any signs and symptoms to appear until the cancer has already spread much, so it's hard to detect these early tumors.
After it has spread, colon cancer starts to cause symptoms that can not be overlooked, like blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, fatigue, vomiting, stomach aches, so in this phase it's easy to discover and diagnose it, after some clinical tests and trials.
The firs thing that doctors do once a patient is diagnosed with colon cancer is to surgically remove the parts of the large intestine that are affected and then sew the intestine back. The large intestine is over 4 feet long so removing a few inches from it will not hurt much.
After the colon cancer surgery, tests are performed in order to check in there are any other cancerous cells left in the body. If these tests show that the cancer has passed through the large intestine's walls, into the abdominal cavity, and it has infected cells and tissues there, then a stage 3 colon cancer is diagnosed. If there are other places where the cancer has spread, then stage 4 colon cancer is the diagnose.
After the diagnose the patient must immediately continue the therapy, in order to remove all the remaining cancer cells. More clinical trials must be performed to establish what the best treatment is.
Stage 3 colon cancer can be cured, and the survival rate of patients is around 50%. The treatment used in most cases is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is done by injecting some substances directly in the blood. These substances can help the body fight the cancerous cells, but they also cause severe side-effects, among which you can find loss of hair, loss of weight, fatigue, confusion, and many more.
Chemotherapy treatment is improved each year, and scientists hope to find the best solution for treating stage 3 colon cancer in the near future, and the survival rate is increasing.