A Guide to Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is a disease that dramatically changes a person’s life from the day of diagnosis, but new drugs, leading research, and cutting-edge treatments have come so far during the last decade that it can make all the difference to those suffering from colon cancer. Although one in 17 people will develop this disease, the colon cancer rate has been decreasing since 1985, and continues to do so with advanced technology and medicine. To be well informed of this disease, it’s important to understand the colon cancer symptoms, treatment, and prognosis.
Colon Cancer Overview
The colon varies in length between four to five feet in adults, and starts from the small bowel to end at the rectum. It’s responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrition, and to successfully eliminate fecal matter from the body. Cancer cells can start in either the rectum or the colon, and they multiply at abnormal rates. They can spread to other areas of the body and overwhelm the healthy cells that enable you to flourish and survive.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
It’s important to take note of any symptoms, simple or complex. These can include:
- Changes in bowel behavior such as constipation, density of stools, diarrhea etc.
- Blood in stools.
- Rectal bleeding during bowel movements.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Incomplete bowel movement sensations.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Abdominal discomfort that doesn’t let up.
Colon Cancer Treatment Options
The treatment options will depend on the severity of the cancer which is determined by stages. The stages are measured by many varying methods, but the most common method lists stages zero to four with recurrent colon cancer as it’s own category. The most common treatment options are:
- Surgery for early stage: invasive, may need colostomy temporarily or permanently.
- Surgery for advanced: invasive, only to help improve symptoms.
- Chemotherapy: typically used after it’s spread to lymph nodes, used with radiation therapy.
- Radiation therapy: typically for early-stage, shrinks tumors for easy removal.
- Drug Therapy: targeted drugs, advanced stages.
Colon Cancer Prognosis
Staging is also helpful in determining recurring likelihoods and survival rate. Although colon cancer is one of America’s most fatal diseases, leading researchers are constantly making progress towards treating even the most advanced metastatic cancers to live longer, quality lives. The five year survival rates are as follows:
- Stage 0: Removal of all cancer is curative.
- Stage 1: 93%
- Stage 2: 78%
- Stage 3: 64%
- Stage 4: 8%
It’s vital to seek treatment during even the earliest stages of colon cancer. To successfully receive treatment for colon cancer, it’s advised to keep family members close, seek out support and encouragement, and speak with a medical professional.