Sunday, September 8, 2019

46 FAQs : COLON CANCER: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What is a colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a cancer that begins as small benign clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. With the passage of time these polyps become cancer. Colon cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, drug treatments and targeted therapy are used to treat colon cancer.

(2) What are the signs and symptoms of colon cancer?

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer:

Symptoms may vary widely with age and other factors. Many people experience no signs of colon cancer when it is in early stage. However major signs & symptoms of colorectal cancer may include the following:

  • Abdominal discomfort,
  • Constipation,
  • Change in the consistency of stool,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Fatigue or weakness,
  • Unexplained weight loss,
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty,
  • Blood in your stool,
  • Persistent change in bowel habits,
  • Rectal bleeding

Article Covers:          Colon Cancer, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
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(3) What is the cause of colon cancer?
The real cause of colon cancer is not certain. Generally, healthy cells of colon experience a change in their DNA. Thus this mutation in the healthy cells makes cells to divide in unchecked manner even when new cells are not needed. Accumulation of these cells forms a tumor. With time, cancer cells grow and invade nearby tissues and thus spread to the other parts of the body.

(4) Does sugar cause colon cancer?
It is thought that high levels of glucose, insulin, and triglycerides increase the risks of colon cancer. Thus it is necessary to avoid the diets that are high in sugars.

(5) Is colon cancer painful?
You may experience abdominal pain that can be mild or severe. Change in bowel movement leads to cramping and pain in the abdomen.

(6) Does colon cancer cause back pain?
Pain is present in just 20% cases. Back pain is a late sign of colon cancer caused by a tumor invading or compressing nerve trunks. If the tumor is invading the bladder then urinary symptoms may also occur.

(7) Is colon cancer a slow growing cancer? How quickly does colon cancer grow?
Colon cancer is slow growing cancer that enlarges gradually and penetrates the bowel wall eventually. Mostly polyps and cancers appear on the left side of the colon.

(8) How serious is the colon cancer?
After lung cancer, colon cancer is the 2nd most deadly cancer. However, it is the most curable cancer as it can be detected easily and in earlier stages.

(9) What are the signs of end stage colon cancer?
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Fatigue,
  • Fever,
  • Feeling full early

(10) How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer?
All colorectal polyps do not convert into cancer. People may inherit disease in which the risks of polyps becoming cancer may be high. Five year survival rate for stage-4 colon cancer are 14%. That means if 100 people are diagnosed for stage IV colon cancer, then 14 percent of them can live five years. But that are not exact figures as your doctor can judge your condition.

(11) How does colon cancer start?
Although all polyps do not convert into cancer but all cancerous growth starts from here. However people may also inherit disease where the chance of developing colorectal cancer increases to a considerable extent. Colorectal cancer may also develop from areas of abnormal cells or tissues in the lining of the rectum or colon.

(12) Where is the first place where colon cancer spreads?
Stage IV colon cancers may spread from colon to distant organs. Colon cancer mostly spreads to the liver. It can also spread to the lungs, brain, lymph nodes or to the abdominal cavity’s peritoneum.

(13) What is the reason of colon cancer?
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known, but certain risk factors are associated with the disease are:
  • Alcohol,
  • Tobacco smoking,
  • Unhealthy diet,
  • Hereditary syndromes,
  • Family history of colorectal cancer

(14) How common is colon cancer by age?
  • Colorectal cancer occurs usually in the people over age 50.
  • For colon cancer, the average age at the time of diagnosis for men is 68 and for women is 72.
  • For rectal cancer, the age is 63 for both men and women.
  • However teenagers and adults may also be susceptible to colon cancer.

(15) What is stage 3 colon cancer?
Stage 3 cancer is a stage in which cancer has spread:
  • Through the mucosa of the colon wall to the submucosa,
  • Nearby lymph nodes,
  • Muscle layer,
  • Tissues nearby lymph nodes
(16) Can colon cancer develop in 2 years?
The risks of developing another colorectal cancer are about 0.3 percent per anum. Patients suffering Crohn’s colitis or ulcerative colitis for more than eight years should have a colonoscopy every one to two years.

(17) Does colon cancer come back?
In 35% to 40% cases, the cancer may come back within 3 to 5 years after colorectal cancer surgery. If it comes back, it could be in the rectum, colon, lungs, or the liver.

(18) Does colon cancer run in families?
Due to shared environmental factors and gene mutations in the DNA, cancers can “run in the family”. Adenomatous polyps are the polyps that can become cancerous. Family members who have these polyps are thought to be linked to the high risk of developing colon cancer in other family members.

(19) How does a colon spasm look like?
Signs and symptoms of colon spasm symptoms can vary from person to person however some notable signs are described below:
  • Sudden abdominal pain,
  • Pain in the lower abdomen,
  • Pain on the left side of belly,
  • Severe pain of the abdomen

(20) Do symptoms of colon cancer come on suddenly?
Colon cancer may have no symptoms till the cancer grows to a severe extent. However if symptoms occur, they may be following:
  • Bleeding from the rectum,
  • Sudden change in the bowel movement,
  • Blood in the stool,
  • Blockage of colon with the growth of tumors

(21) What are the Risk factors that may lead to colon cancer?

Risk Factors of colon cancer:

The following factors may increase the risks of colon cancer:
  1. Alcohol and smoking,
  2. African-American people have higher risk of colon cancer than any other race.
  3. Adenomatous polyposis (FAP),
  4. Crohn’s disease,
  5. Diabetes,
  6. Inflammatory intestinal conditions,
  7. Intake of Low fiber and High fat diet,
  8. Inactive behavior,
  9. Obesity,
  10. Lynch syndrome,
  11. Old age (>50 Years old),
  12. Ulcerative colitis,
  13. Western diet that includes fast foods and fried foods,
  14. Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers also increases the risk of colon cancer.

(22) How can I protect my colorectal health?
  1. Avoid alcohol,
  2. Do not smoke,
  3. Eat healthy diet,
  4. Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables,
  5. Avoid fast food and fried foods,
  6. Exercise daily,
  7. Avoid bacon, pork, and other red meat,
  8. Eat whole grains,
  9. Go for Screening Tests for colon cancer.


(23) Does colon cancer show up in blood work?
No blood test can tell you if you have colon cancer. However, your healthcare provider may test your blood for carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA or other chemicals that are sometimes produced by colon cancers.

(24) Will an xray tell about colon cancer?
Xrays may be taken of entire gastrointestinal system that may help physician to detect a tumor. X-ray takes pictures of the inside structures of human body. For bowel cancer, x-rays may be very helpful.

(25) Can an ultrasound show colon cancer?
Ultrasound can detect even non-suspected colonic tumors, especially in the ascending colon. However, due to low specificity, doctors must diagnose by x-ray and/or colonoscopy. Ultrasound is not suitable first choice to detect colorectal cancer.

(26) Can a CT scan detect colon cancer?
Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan uses x-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of body so this can tell if colon cancer has spread into liver or other organs.
(27) Can MRI detect colon cancer?
MRI colonography accurately detects polyps that have the potential to become cancer. According to new research, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI is more tolerable alternative to conventional colonoscopy in the detection of colon cancer.

(28) Does colon cleanse work?
There is no evidence. Anyhow many believe that colon cleansing improves health by removing toxic wastes and, boosting your energy. It also enhances human immune system.

(29) What causes a lazy colon?
When the muscles of the colon contract slowly, the stool moves through the colon too slowly. This results in too much absorption of water in the colon.

(30) What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a technique that is used to detect colon cancer by finding intestinal polyps. It checks large intestine and colon for abnormal cells. A long tube called colonoscope is inserted into the rectum that travels up along the length of the colon. It then transmits pictures, which are used to search for polyps. If your physician finds a polyp, he will cut it out using a small wire loop on the tube.

(31) Why you must avoid colonoscopy?
This procedure is very beneficial but some people choose to opt out of the procedure for the following reasons:

  • It requires a full day preparation for the procedure,
  • You have to take a drink that induces diarrhea,
  • This procedure sometimes involves enema to clean the colon,
  • It also can cause the pressure of gas into the colon of the patient,
  • High costs of colonoscopy,
  • Discomfort during the procedure.

(32) What are the benefits of colonoscopy?

Benefits of a colonoscopy:

Colorectal cancer is slow-growing cancer that can be treated when caught early. Colonoscopy is very effective in the early detection of colon cancer. It can find cancerous and precancerous growths in the colon in an effective way.

(33) Is a CT scan better than a colonoscopy?
Virtual colonoscopy using CT scans is more effective for investigating patients with possible bowel cancer than an X-ray test., says a new study. This less invasive CT colonography (CTC) should now be considered alongside the 'gold standard' of colonoscopy.

(34) What are the tests available for colon cancer?
While a colonoscopy may be the best option, however there are several tests available that can be alternatives to a colonoscopy. All of these tests differ in their effectiveness in detecting colon cancer. Some tests are described below:

(1) Fecal Occult Blood Test:

FOBT is as effective as a colonoscopy but it is done every year. This test combines a blood test with the FIT to get an accurate detection of colon cancer.

(2) Cologuard:

Cologuard is also stool test that can be used in place of a colonoscopy. This is expensive than FIT and relatively new test. FIT is used every 3 years.

(3) Stool DNA:

Stool DNA is a prescribed test that can be done at home. Stool DNA test looks for blood and certain DNA in the stool sample that may indicate the presence of colon cancer. If cancerous cells are detected then the patient will have to endure a colonoscopy to remove the cancerous tissues.

(4) Fecal Immunochemical Test:

FIT is a type of test in which fecal sample is collected and screened. In this procedure, a person is given a kit to collect a fecal sample at home. FIT uses antibodies to detect blood in a person's stool that cannot be seen with the naked eye. A FIT checks for internal gastrointestinal bleeding. To reduce the chance of a false positive, a person should tell their healthcare provider about the following things:
  • Anal fissures,
  • Menstruation,
  • Hemorrhoids

(5) CT Colonoscopy:

In CT colonoscopy, an x-ray of the colon is taken just like the colonoscopy but in this test there is no need to sedate the patient. During CT colonoscopy, the colon is inflated with air to provide a better view of the inside. If a cancer or polyp is detected then a colonoscopy will be conducted to remove the cancerous tissues.

(6) Sigmoidscope:

Just like colonoscopy, it also requires cleansing of the colon beforehand. Anyhow a sigmoidoscope checks a smaller portion of the colon only.

(7) Double contrast barium enema:

This test is used to examine the colon but it may miss small polyps as this technique is useful only in the screening of large polyps. If polyps are found, it still requires colonoscopy to remove the cancerous parts.

(35) Should I get a colonoscopy at age 30?
For most people, colon cancer screening should begin at age 50. A colonoscopy is performed with the patient under general anesthesia and repeated every 10 years. Colonoscopy is recommended at age 45 for Black men and women, who have a higher risk of colorectal cancer; and sometimes earlier for people who have a family history.

(36) How often a person should get a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is recommended for most people at age 50. If a colonoscopy does not find adenomas or cancer, the next test should be taken in ten years. Anyhow, If one or two small, low-risk adenomas are removed, the exam should be repeated in five to ten years.

(37) Do you get results immediately after a colonoscopy?
Immediately after the colonoscopy, the specialist will tell you if they have removed any polyps. If tissue samples are removed during your colonoscopy, you should receive the results in three weeks.

(38) Does colitis always show up on colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy when used with the biopsy can be beneficial in detecting precancerous mutations and colon cancer. Sigmoidoscopy can confirm the diagnosis of:
  • Crohn’s disease,
  • Inflammation presence,
  • Ulcerative coliutis,
  • Source of bleeding

(39) What will a colonoscopy reveal?
A colonoscopy is a procedure that is used to examine the large bowel and detect colon or bowel cancer.

(40) What does a colitis attack feel like?
An ulcerative colitis (UC) flare-up may cause frequent or urgent bowel movements, weight loss, diarrhea, fatigue, appetite loss, bloody stool, and/or abdominal pain.

(41) Where does colon cancer usually recur?
Colorectal cancer has overall 5-year survival rate of about 60%. After treatment with curative intent, 30% to 40% of the patients develop recurrent disease. Recurrent disease usually presents as distant metastasis in the lungs, liver, pelvis or peritoneum.
(42) Do you poop during a colonoscopy?
You may also have a small amount of blood in your first bowel movement post-colonoscopy, especially if your doctor removed polyps or took biopsies. This is totally normal. Frustration during a colonoscopy can make it a lot scary, so if you still have questions, ask your physician.

(43) Is colonoscopy really necessary?
When recommended, treatments other than colonoscopy are used as an effective measure in detecting colon cancer. However, if any polyps are found, you may require a colonoscopy anyway. Colon screening is necessary getting a past the age 50, for the detection of colon cancer.

(44) What happens if they find colon cancer during a colonoscopy?
If any polyps or abnormal tissues in the colon are found then a colonoscopy is considered necessary. Most polyps are not cancerous, but some can be precancerous. Polyps removed during colonoscopy are sent for analysis to determine whether they are cancerous, precancerous or noncancerous.

(45) How to prevent the risks of Colon cancer?
Colon cancer prevention for people with a high risk
Some medications have been found to decrease the risk of precancerous polyps or colon cancer such as aspirin. But taking this medicine daily can lead to ulcers and intestinal bleeding.

(46) Can you survive colon cancer?
  • Stage I colon cancers have a survival rate of 80% to 95%.
  • Stage II tumors have survival rates ranging from 55% to 80%.
  • Stage III colon cancer has about a 40% chance of cure.
  • Stage IV colon cancer tumor has only a 10 percent survival rate.

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