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Colon cancer, as the name suggests, is a malignancy that develops inside the large intestine, commonly referred to as the colon. All the cancer can affect people of any age group, it is more commonly found in elderlies. Colon cancer is also sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, which is a combined term for colon cancer and rectal cancer. The cancer initially starts as small non-malignant polyps which become cancerous over time. As the polyps do not produce any major symptoms, doctors lay a lot of emphasis on regular screening.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with colon cancer include:
Although the exact cause of colon cancer is not known, it is believed to be a result of undesired mutations in the DNA of the cells lining the colon. These mutations compel the cells to grow and multiply uncontrollably, eventually resulting in the formation of a tumour. In the advanced stages, the cancerous cells can break free enter the bloodline, from where they metastasize to other parts of the patient's body
Various factors that elevate your risk of developing colon cancer include:
Colon cancer cannot be diagnosed by physical examination or blood investigations. Instead, you may be recommended to undergo colonoscopy. This involves the use of a long and flexible device, known as a colonoscope, fitted with a camera on one of its ends. This helps to visualise the entire colon and rectum. The doctor may also collect some tissue samples for biopsy, during the procedure. These tissue samples are thoroughly examined for any traces of cancer.
Surgery – The type of surgery depends upon the stage of the cancer and the extent to which it has spread.
Early-stage colon cancer can be treated using minimally invasive approaches such as:
Advanced-stage colon cancer requires more extensive approaches. These include:
Chemotherapy – It involves the use of a combination of drugs, that are given orally or intravenously, to target and destroy rapidly-growing cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with other treatments to yield maximum results.
Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy is usually used to address recurring ovarian cancer by targeting certain weaknesses present in the cancer cells. Doctors usually conduct a biopsy to determine which targeted therapy is best suited for you.
Radiation therapy – It used x-ray beams of high intensity to target the cancerous cells. This may be given before the surgery, to reduce the size of the tumour, and after the surgery to destroy cancerous cells that were left behind during the surgery. These radiations may be given externally, using a special radiation machine, or from within, using certain radiation-emitting substances.
Immunotherapy – It involves the use of certain drugs that help to boost the body’s immune system and is usually recommended to patients with advanced anal canal cancer.