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Colon cancer is one type of colon cancer. Specialists believe that it is one of the best-studied neoplasms in terms of factors predisposing to its occurrence. What is the prognosis for colon cancer and how is it treated?

Colon cancercan develop in any of the four parts of the colon. The peak incidence of this cancer occurs in the 6th and 7th decade of life. Men get sick more often than women.

Colon cancer: risk factors

The risk of developing the disease increases with excessive consumption of red meat and a diet low in fiber, with a tendency to constipation, lack of physical activity and smoking. It has been proven that this cancer is more common in people suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

There is also evidence of a genetic predisposition to colon cancer. This is due to random mutations in some genes of the glandular epithelium. The tendency to such mutations is high in people genetically burdened with certain diseases, e.g. Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, Peutz-Jeghers and juvenile polyposis.

Colon cancer: symptoms

Symptoms depend on the location and stage of the cancer. Since the large intestine is an organ with very flexible walls, a developing tumor may not produce any easily observable symptoms for a long time. Our attention should be drawn to the change in bowel movements and the appearance of blood in the stools.

Unfortunately, gastrointestinal bleeding is not always visible on toilet paper or underwear. Therefore, after the age of 45, it is worth asking your doctor to perform a fecal occult blood test. You can also carry out the test yourself, after buying the appropriate kit at the pharmacy.

Colon cancer symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. If the cancer develops in the right side of the colon, then dull pain in the lower abdomen on the right side and dark stools may appear. Sometimes the doctor can also feel the tumor through the abdominal wall. When cancer develops in the left side of the colon, the rhythm of bowel movements changes. Constipation alternates with diarrhea, and the stool has a so-called pencil shape. You may also see blood in your stools. The most disturbing symptom isstopping bowel movements and not giving gas for days. Bowel obstruction is accompanied by gas, vomiting and abdominal pain. It also happens that a sick person quickly loses weight, which may indicate metastasis to other organs.

Colon cancer: from suspicion to diagnosis

Suspicion of neoplastic disease must be confirmed by appropriate tests. The basic, but underestimated, examination is per rectum, i.e. with a finger through the anus, and the examination for occult blood in the feces. Another is colonoscopy, during which you can take specimens for histopathological examination or remove small polyps from the large intestine.

Important tests are those that allow to assess the advancement of the tumor, the condition of the lymph nodes and the presence of distant metastases. For this purpose, computed tomography of the abdominal cavity and pelvis, ultrasound examination and chest X-ray are performed. If the tomographic image is unclear, a PET-CT scan, i.e. positron emission tomography, is performed. In addition, it is necessary to perform laboratory tests, i.e. morphology and biochemical tests to assess the functions of the kidneys and liver.

Colon cancer: tumor needs to be removed

Surgical removal of the tumor and regional lymph nodes is the basic method of treatment of this cancer. Usually, the operation is carried out by the classic method, i.e. through the abdominal wall. Less invasive laparoscopic procedures are used.

When tumors are inoperable (infiltrating other organs or important vessels or nerves), the patient undergoes chemotherapy prior to surgery to reduce the size of the infiltrates. After a few months, the doctor decides whether the neoplastic lesion can be surgically removed.

If the disease is disseminated, a decision is made to have a stoma, remove a fragment of the intestine with the tumor, to protect the patient from bleeding and intestinal obstruction. In supportive treatment, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are used, and radiotherapy only in exceptional cases, because it is associated with many complications.

Colon cancer treatment success depends on the stage of the cancer.

With an early stage of the disease, more than 80 percent of patients recover. In the case of metastases to other organs - only every tenth patient survives for more than five years. After the end of treatment, it is necessary to monitor the patient's condition. The basic test is the determination of the concentration of the cancer antigen (CEA marker). The test is performed every 3 months for 2 years, and then every six months for the next 3 years. Necessary studies are alsocolonoscopy with biopsy, chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasound or computed tomography


CEA marker on censored

In the past, a CEA neoplastic marker was considered an indicator of colorectal cancer. Currently, it is known that it is not reliable, because its high concentration may also occur in non-cancerous diseases, e.g. in diseases of the intestine, pancreas or liver. In clinical practice, this marker is used to detect recurrence of colorectal cancer, as well as to assess the patient's condition after surgical treatment. However, it is believed to be of little use in assessing the effectiveness of treatment.

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