Colon Cancer Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis
Colon cancer – what it represents? Colon in the human body is a long, tube-shaped body with a length of about one and a half meter. It starts from the end of the small intestine and terminates at the anus, it makes several bends in the stomach. Colon has three main functions – participates in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food; formed faeces by extraction of water and electrolytes from them; stored and controlled release of faeces. The right side of the colon is a major role in the absorption of water and electrolytes, while the left side is responsible for the storage and release of faeces. Most types of colon cancer are adenocarcinomas – tumors that develop from the glands in the lining of the intestine.
In the US, each of seventeen people is developing colon cancer. Death from this cancer ranks third in men after lung cancer and prostate cancer, and in third place in women, after lung cancer and breast cancer.
Colon Cancer Causes
In most cases of colon cancer it develops from adenomatous polyps – clusters of abnormal cells of the glands covering the lining of the colon. Over time, these polyps grow and degenerate, becoming adenocarcinoma. People who carry the so-called. adenomatous polipoden syndrome, have a greater than average risk for developing colon cancer. In this condition in the colon to form a plurality of polyps, at a given moment are transformed into colon cancer. Usually this transformation occurs before the age of forty. Adenomatous polyposis tends to runs in the family – familial adenomatous polyposis.
With high risk of developing colon cancer are also following groups of people:
- Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease;
- Patients with breast cancer, uterus or ovaries cancer, now or in the past;
- People whose relatives with colorectal cancer.
- The risk of colon cancer increases 2 to 3 times in first-degree relatives (parent or brother / sister), suffering from the disease.
Other risk factors:
- Diet – the role of nutrition in the prevention of colon cancer, it is still questionable. However, it is considered that the intake of fruits, vegetables and fiber, and reduced consumption of refined fats may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.
- Obesity is considered a risk factor.
- Smoking is a proven risk factor for the development of not only lung cancer, but also for colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
The presence of colon cancer can remain for a long time without pronounced symptoms. Symptoms:
- Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool. People often attribute the bleeding hemorrhoids. It is important to carefully exclude the presence of malignant process bowel prior to accept the diagnosis hemorrhoids. Bleeding may be hidden and chronic, and can lead to iron deficiency anemia. It is most often manifested by an increased tiredness and pallor of the skin and mucous membranes.
- Abdominal pain – it is rare in the colon. Gradually increasing intolerance to pain may occur in perforation of the intestine and the leakage of the contents into the abdominal cavity – developing peritonitis.
- Unexplained and persistent nausea or vomiting.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Change in the nature or frequency of bowel movements;
- Thin as a pencil stools;
- Feeling of weight after defecation;
Typically, colon cancer, which covers the right side of the intestine, have been observed anemia, weight loss and weakness. From covering the left part of the colon are manifesting symptoms of bowel obstruction.
Colon Cancer Diagnosis
The presence of bleeding from the intestine or a change in bowel movements were indicative of the performance of studies to search for the cause.
The review begins most often with rectal examination – after putting on gloves doctor inserts into the anus of the patient forefinger. This simple study aims to confirm the presence of blood from the intestines. The study is not painful, but can cause some discomfort.
Highly informative method for the examination of the bowel is colonoscopy. In this study, through the anus into the colon is inserted a thin, flexible tube equipped with a small camera. With its help looking around inside the colon and look for polyps, tumors and other disease changes. Moreover, with this method it becomes possible taking of tissue for microscopic examination of the suspicious areas of the colon (biopsy). Before carrying out the study, the patient drinks a special solution laxative, which aims to clean the intestines and faeces to ensure good visibility. Colonoscopy is performed after inserting the anesthesia.
Barium enema is an x-ray of the colon where the colon by enema in introducing dye. With its help, can be visualized tumors and other diseases of the colon. When barium enema is most often visualized larger size tumor processes, while smaller and deeper lying tumors were visualized difficult. This method is increasingly shifting from a colonoscopy.
In demonstrating the colon cancer, the most commonly performed computed tomography of the abdomen and X-ray of the lungs. They are used to establish whether the disease has spread to other organs and lymph nodes.
Besides described instrumental examinations are carried out laboratory tests. Through them is sought most frequently the presence of anemia as a result of chronic bleeding from the intestines. There are also specific laboratory parameters, called tumor markers, but they are primarily used to monitor treatment outcome and relapse (re-growth of the tumor after treatment).