Health

The diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer

Colon cancer is a cancer of the large intestine, which forms the lower part of the digestive system. Colon cancer usually begins in a very small level with clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. These serve as warning signs of colon cancer. Over time, these polyps change into cancerous cells. Polyps produce more of themselves hence regular screenings help in preventing colon cancer. The symptoms are usually mistaken for other issues and the underlying grave issue goes undetected if not screened.

Change in bowel activities, rectal bleeding, dark stools, anal bleeding, cramping are some of the symptoms of colon cancer. Issues like hemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel diseases also have the same symptoms. Doctors may prescribe following test to relate the symptoms.

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
    FOBT tries to find hidden blood content in stool.
  • Sigmoidoscopy
    A sigmoidoscopy is used to examine the rectum and lower colon. During a sigmoidoscopy, pre-cancerous and cancerous growth can be detected and can be even removed for further testing.
  • Colonoscopy
    A lighted instrument called a ‘colonoscope’ is used to examine the rectum and the entire colon. Similar to sigmoidoscopy, in colonoscopy also there is a scope for detecting cancerous growth over colon and rectum. The growth can also be removed for further testing.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy
    Special x-ray equipment produces a three-dimensional image of the colon and the rectum. The image is further processed to detect the presence of any polyps or abnormalities.

Various treatments are available for colon cancer. Some of them are as follows-

  • Surgery
    Surgery is the most common method where the cancerous growth is removed in an operation.
  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy is a method which uses certain drugs that hamper the growth of the cancer cells. The growth is stopped by either killing them or preventing cell division. Chemotherapy administered over throughout the body via mouth or intravenous injection is called as systemic chemotherapy. Chemotherapy administered to a specific part or organ is called as a regional chemotherapy.
  • Radiation Therapy
    High energy x-rays or other types of radiations are used to kill or prevent the division of cancer cells.

Understanding the body and paying heed to all the minor symptoms through which the body tries to communicate helps a lot in tracking such disorders at the primary stage itself.