What Are The Early Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?
Discover The Warning Signs
Cancer is a terrible disease that affects different parts of the body due to the effects of uncontrolled cell activity, it’s one of the largest killers of human beings on the planet with 1 in 3 people having some form of cancer in their life.
Colon cancer affect a lot of people in the USA and the rest of the world with 140,000 people a year in the USA alone, being diagnosed with this illness and at least 50,000 people dying to it.(1)
This shows just how deadly and prevalent cancer of the colon is and why caution and vigilance must be taken.
What Is A Colon?
What Is It? Where Is It?
Also known as the large intestine or lower intestine, the colon is situated below the stomach and small intestine area.
This is the part of the digestive system that absorbs water and certain mineral salts. Whatever is not removed during the digestive process, then becomes fecal waste and is transported through muscular contractions, to the rectum.
The colon is fed by the small intestine and passes waste through to the rectal area.
Some people reading this may recognize the colon as being called a bowel (or large bowel) in Brtish English. These terms are interchangeable, so colon cancer is the same thing as bowel cancer.
So, What Is Colon Cancer?
Pathophysiology Of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer refers to cancer that affects the large intestine and as mentioned in the above segment, may be known as bowel cancer by many people in the Commonwealth countries.
So, what happens when one suffers from colon cancer?
Most colon cancers originate from adenomatous polyps. These are small benign tumors forming the inner walls of the large intestine.
Some of the polyps become malignant if they are not removed earlier by colonoscopy. The cancerous colon cells then invade nearby healthy tissues and damage them.
This causes various complications.
The malignant cells can travel further through lymph nodes and blood to other distant body parts and cause similar damage and complications.
This process is called metastasis and can result in a severely worsened condition that may be quite hard to treat.
What Does This All Mean?
Most cancer of the colon occurs when polyps go by undetected and become malignant.
Early Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Catching It Early
Like most cancers, catching colon cancer early can help in the prevention of long-term illness. Understanding the symptoms increases the likelihood of seeking medical advice that could save a life.
The first stage may have no noticeable symptoms unlike skin cancers such as melanoma, so the minute one of the early symptoms of colon cancer become apparent, it’s more important than ever to seek medical attention.
As the cancer grows, an individual may suffer any of the following symptoms:
A person may find very different stool consistency when going to the bathroom, which may be very unusual and troubling.
Blood In stool
Upon a bathroom visit and individual may find their stool has some blood in it, which may be alarming. Blood in the stool should require immediate medical attention.
Fatigue And Weakness
This can manifest as tiredness and a general lack of energy. A direct drop in energy levels might be quite noticeable or may be too gradual in its decline to go by noticed.
Bowel Movement Pains
This can range from a mild discomfort to a sharp, painful bowel movement, which should always result in a visit to a doctor
Constipation & Diarrhoea
Both ends of the spectrum, this can be very embarrassing to talk about with a physician, but it needs to be done if such symptoms of colon cancer emerge.
Some people feel a deep shame talking about such things, but it’s important to view doctors as professionals trained to deal with such personal matter.
A little embarrassment could save a life.
This may be determined by a blood iron test, though a person would have to show iron deficiency symptoms, and seek medical advice.
Iron deficiency symptoms may include:
A general lack of energy, lack of strength, racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, having hands that are cold to the touch, pasty colored skin, weight loss, and tongue pain.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This painful bowel ailment leaves sufferers in pain and at odds with what to eat and sometimes in fear of the bathroom.
Other symptoms will present depending on the affected areas if at all metastasis occurs.
What’s The Take Away From This?
There are many symptoms to be on the look out for, but by the time they manifest, it can mean the cancer has spread.
What Are The Causes of Colon Cancer?
The Many Causes Of A Deadly Disease
Normal cells undergo a programmed process of growth, division, and death. Cancer cells, however, grow uncontrollably and resist death, quite the opposite of normal cells and what would be an ideal situation.
The exact causes of these cell changes in the colon are not known but can be attributed to the following.
Mutations and or damage to DNA cause uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon.
If these cells are unable to correct the mutations and damages, they resist cell death and become cancerous. Colon cancer can also be as a result of inherited altered genes from parents.
Some polyps can be precancerous. Some of the common types of polyps include:
These are generally dangerous and which are rarely cancerous
These can cause cancer but often removed during a colonoscopy
Often occur after colitis and may be cancerous long term if not treated
Most colon cancer patients are aged 50 and above. This isn’t to say anyone younger than fifty years old can’t get cancer of the colon because they most certainly can.
Ten percent of people who get colon cancer are under fifty years old.
Colon cancer is most likely to affect people who have sedentary lifestyles, smoke tobacco and are overweight or obese. It is also common to those consuming high fat and calories but low fiber diets.
The health benefits associated with aerobic exercise and general activity seem to afford a lower risk of colon cancer than those who lead far less active lifestyles.
5. Other Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, diabetes acromegaly, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease are examples of diseases that are associated with a heightened risk of colon cancer.
What Does This Mean For The Average Person?
There are some definite preventative measures that can be taken such as quitting smoking, eating more fiber and getting some exercise.
What Are The Colon Cancer Treatment Options?
What Is Available?
The colon cancer treatment options that are available to an individual will depend on the type and stage of cancer and health and individual characteristics of the patient.
The typical colon cancer treatments are either aimed at the precise removal of the cancer or relieving its painful symptoms and may include:
This damages cancer cells by using chemicals that either destroy their DNA or interfere with the process of their cell division.
Chemotherapy, however, has side effects for example hair loss, anemia, susceptibility to infection, and fatigue.
Considering that anemia may be one of the signs of colon cancer, chemotherapy may require very careful iron supplementation.
Colonoscopy & Endoscopic Mucosal Resection
This is fairly non-invasive (compared to a colectomy)and involves a tubular device that allows a visual look into the affected colon and then EMR tools can be used to remove polyps from the intestinal area. (3)
The surgical procedure to eliminate colon cancer is called a colectomy which is the removal of a portion of a colon.
The job of a colectomy in this instance is to remove part of the colon that has the cancerous growth.
The extent of the surgery will determine if the nearby lymph nodes also need removal.
This destroys the cancer cells by damaging their molecules. The damage is caused by high-energy rays that focused on the cells.
Radiation therapy has several side effect though, that may include nausea, hair loss, stomach problems, and loss of appetite. (2)
What Does This Mean?
If you detect the early symptoms of colon cancer you may avoid the last two, more invasive treatments
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?
Cancer is an awful disease which can have devastating consequences for both the sufferers and their families.
Catching the early warning signs is more crucial than ever with colon cancer because these symptoms manifest a little later, meaning there’s less time to wait.
Keeping an eye on the signs and being proactive could be the key to managing treatment, but the importance of a nutritious, high fiber diet can not be understated here, as well as partaking in regular exercise to maintain a health weight.
We hope you found the article “What are the early symptoms of colon cancer” informative. The information provided is not for the purpose of diagnosing, curing or treating any illness and is informational only. Please seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.