The colon cancer or colorectal cancer, relates to the development and accelerated growth and invasive disordered abnormal cell level lining or mucosa of the large intestine is the last part of the digestive system.
Epidemiologically, there is a greater risk in patients over 50 years of age, however, it does not mean that a minor person does not suffer from it. Other factors that represent risk are the following:
- Family history of colorectal cancer. There is an important genetic component in some hereditary pathologies such as adenomatous polyposis and Lynch syndrome, which substantially increases the risk of colon cancer.
- Personal history of intestinal polyps.
- Crohn's disease, which represents a chronic inflammatory process of the intestinal tract (both thin and thick).
- Ulcerative colitis (colonic inflammatory disease)
- Diet high in fat, calories, processed meats as well as a low fiber content, increases the risk.
- Frequent smoking and alcoholic habits.
- Metabolic and endocrine pathologies such as Diabetes.
Colon Cancer Diagnosis
The colon cancer can be diagnosed through several methods. The first thing that is done once the patient consults is the anamnesis (interrogation) to look for data that guide the diagnosis, such as inquiring about the risk factors described above, and placing special emphasis on the symptoms, sensations and concerns that the patient may describe. patient.
Among the signs and symptoms of the colon cancer patient are:
- Change in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or the consistency of stool, which lasts for several weeks.
- Significant weight loss with no other reason to justify it.
- Weakness or fatigue
- Rectal bleeding or bloody stools.
- Persistent, intermittent, or chronic abdominal discomfort such as bloating or cramping pain.
- Rectal tenesmus, that is, a feeling of having the need to defecate, which sometimes when attempting defecation is not achieved and the sensation does not disappear after doing so.
It is equally important to recognize that, in the early stages of the disease, patients with colon cancer do not present any symptoms or are often attributed to another cause as they are nonspecific.
After the interrogation, the patient must be evaluated through a complete physical examination to rule out differential diagnoses or other possible causes for the symptoms described by the patient, and based on the findings, define the imaging, laboratory and complementary studies that may give certainty in diagnosis. Useful tests to request include:
- Fecal occult blood test, which examines blood that may not be visible in the stool with the naked eye.
- Stool DNA test examines stool to find cells shed from colon cancers or precancerous polyps.
- Barium enema. Contrast fluid is passed through the rectum to make the colonic structure visible on x-ray for abnormalities.
- Colonoscopy This test involves inserting a thin, flexible tube into the rectum, which has a device to capture images of the colon and even allow the resection or biopsy of a suspicious polyp or lesion to confirm the diagnosis with the pathological report.
Colon cancer treatment
There are several alternatives for the management of colon cancer that will depend on the stage of advance of the disease and other factors, such as the age of the patient, the technological resources available at the institution that receives the patient, the ability to access them, etc. Surgery to resect the tumor and the affected colonic segment is one of the first options to consider.
Chemotherapy is a treatment option that is often applied in conjunction with surgery or in advanced cases where the tumor is considered unresectable, it is used in conjunction with radiotherapy in search of a favorable response that allows to operate or ultimately use it as a palliative option to provide a longer survival time. In the same way, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used to avoid recurrence (reappearance of the disease) once the remission of the patient has been achieved.
Simple steps can be taken to reduce the risk of colon cancer such as:
- Stop bad habits of alcohol and smoking.
- Increase physical activity and exercise outdoors.
- Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Losing weight is important if you are overweight or obese, not only for the prevention of colon cancer, but for many other diseases such as cardiometabolic diseases. Remember that you should lose weight gradually through a proper and balanced diet in conjunction with an exercise program appropriate to you.
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