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Colon Cancer – Understand it to Detect it

The colon is otherwise known as the large intestine. Water and salt from solid wastes are extracted in the colon before exiting the body through the anus.

What is Colon Cancer and what causes it? 

Cancer is a disease characterized by out-of-control cell growth. According to recent studies, around 4 per 100000 people suffer from colon cancer in India. It is the 8th most common cancer in men and 9th most common in women.

Many colon cancers develop from benign polyps that form on the inner wall, if they are not detected and removed during colonoscopy – a procedure looking at the inner lining of the intestine. If left untreated, these cancer cells will invade and damage healthy tissue near the tumor and can also spread through the blood and lymphatic systems thus spreading to other parts of the body. It can also develop due to gene mutation, and some types of colon cancer are inherited from family members. 90% of patients are over 50 years old. It is more likely to occur in persons with sedentary lifestyles who are overweight, those who smoke tobacco, and consume a ‘western diet’ containing low fiber and high fat as well as processed meats. People with underlying diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and acromegaly are at increased risk.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Symptoms of Colon Cancer :

Cancer symptoms vary and depend on which part of the colon the cancer is located, how large the tumour is, and where it has spread. It is not uncommon for people with early colon cancer to experience no symptoms. It is therefore important to consult an expert and get a screening colonoscopy if one fits into the high-risk category for developing colon cancer.

When the cancer becomes larger some of the symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Narrow stools
  • Blood in stool
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss and anemia (low hemoglobin).
  • Additional symptoms may be present if the tumour spreads to other parts of the body such as the liver.

Diagnostic process for Colon Cancer:  

On consultation, the physician will request a complete physical examination as well as personal and family medial histories. A colonoscopy and appropriate scanning are among the test required to confirm the diagnosis. Colon cancer is usually curable, however the most important aspect in all types of cancers is – Early Diagnosis and Timely Treatment.