Colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in both men and women. This type of cancer, which is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death, offers a possible treatment opportunity if detected in the early stages. Although this type of cancer, which starts in the large intestine, can be found in every age range, it is commonly seen in individuals aged 50 and above.
What is Colon Cancer?
This type of cancer, also known as the large intestine, develops in the last part of the digestive system and can be seen in 1 out of every 20 people during their lifetime. Colon cancer, which can be treated if diagnosed early, can spread to the stomach, lymph nodes, spleen and other parts of the body through blood if left untreated. This type of cancer is also called rectal or colon cancer, depending on the region where it starts.
What are Colon Cancer Symptoms?
Bowel cancer symptoms are usually experienced as a difference in defecation habits. Thanks to this symptom, it can be noticed more easily than many other types of cancer. However, different symptoms can be seen depending on the location of the cancer. However, the general symptoms of colon cancer are as follows:
• Abdominal pain and swelling
• Experiencing a feeling of fullness in the intestine despite defecation
• The person has diarrhea or constipation
• Experiencing pain during defecation
• Bleeding or blood in the stool
• Seeing a transparent secretion in the stool
These symptoms can be easily noticed by everyone and are also seen early. Along with these symptoms, symptoms such as weight loss, formation of a mass in the abdomen, anemia or decrease in blood values, and intestinal obstruction may be experienced in later cases.
Colon Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
“What is colon cancer?” Colon cancer causes and risk factors are among the topics of interest as well as the question. Causes and risk factors can be listed as follows:
• Age factor
• Genetic factors
• Genetic disorders
• Inflammatory bowel diseases
• Unhealthy lifestyle
Colon Cancer Stages
Colon cancer stages are important in order to follow up the disease and to determine how close the person is to the cancer. These phases are as follows:
• Stage 1: It is the earliest stage. Cancerous cells have penetrated into the colon or rectum at this stage, but have not spread to the organ walls.
• Stage 2: Cancerous cells at this stage have spread to the rectum or colon wall, but have not affected the lymph nodes and nearby tissues.
• Stage 3: The cancer has moved to the lymph nodes at this stage, but has not spread to other parts of the body.
• Stage 4: the cancer spreads to other organs at this stage.
How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?
Colonoscopy is one of the diagnostic tests. With colonoscopy, the situation is viewed with a camera placed in the intestine. Before this procedure, the patient is given anesthesia or a sedative. With this procedure, a colonoscope is inserted into the colon and rectum by entering the anus. With this procedure, the doctor sees the unusual areas and takes a tissue sample from this area. The sample tissue taken by this procedure, called biopsy, is examined in detail under the microscope.
Tests for colon cancer diagnosis are as follows:
• DNA test in stool
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy
• Stool occult blood screening
• Computed tomography (CT)
Since colonoscopy is a procedure performed under anesthesia, it is not a painful and painful procedure. One day before the colonoscopy, the intestine is cleaned with various drugs and water. Colonoscopy screening is started from the age of 50 for people who do not have a family history of bowel cancer and who do not have any signs of cancer in their bowels. In cases where no polyps are seen in this procedure, the procedure is repeated every 10 years.
However, screening of people with a family history of colon, ovarian, uterine or breast cancer, especially in their first-degree relatives, should be done from the age of 40. If the person's first degree relative has cancer 10 years before the age of 40, screening can also be done at an earlier age.
What are Colon Cancer Treatment Methods?
Polyps that are likely to turn into cancer are removed by colonoscopy. However, if the cancer is in an advanced stage, surgical procedure is mandatory. With this procedure, the part of the tumor is removed.
Colon Cancer Prevention Ways
Although it is not possible to completely prevent colon cancer that develops on the large intestine, protection can be provided by reviewing some habits in daily life and taking due care. These ways of protection are as follows:
• A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and legumes should be preferred. In addition, excessive consumption of red meat can increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to be moderate in meat consumption.
• Regular exercise is also extremely important.
• A sufficient amount of calcium should be consumed daily.
• Vitamin D should also be taken adequately.
• Fiber foods should be consumed in sufficient quantities.
• Smoking should be avoided.
• Regular screening tests should be done from the age of 50.
Colon Cancer Surgery
Colon cancer surgery is performed by removing the cancer cell completely if the diagnosis is made at an early stage. In addition, other surgical methods used are as follows:
• EMR (Endoscopic Mucosal Resection): With this method, a small part of the inner lining of the intestine and some of the larger polyps can be removed.
• Laparoscopic Surgery (Minimally Invasive Surgery): With this method, polyps that cannot be removed by colonoscopy are removed. In the surgery performed with a small scratch on the abdominal wall, a camera is placed in the intestine and the procedures performed with this camera can be viewed in all details.
These surgeries vary according to the general condition of the patient and take an average of 1-4 hours. After the operation, the patient needs to stay in the hospital for 4-5 days to recover. However, this period varies according to the procedure applied and the patient. It takes 1-2 months for the patient to fully recover after the hospital.
What Should Be Considered After Colon Cancer Surgery?
“What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?” Patients who find an answer to the question also investigate what they should pay attention to after the surgery. After the operation, the patient may experience pain in his body. Therefore, the doctor may give painkillers to the patient for a few days. In addition, the patient should not consume solid foods for a few days and limit the consumption of liquid foods to ensure the healing of the intestinal system. It is also very important for the patient to follow the doctor's instructions in the postoperative period. It is generally recommended to get out of bed and take a walk on the first day. Thus, pain in the abdominal muscles is reduced. After this process, the patient can return to his routine life from the 2nd week.
What Can Be Done When Colon Cancer Spreads to the Liver?
If colon cancer spreads to the liver, that is, metastasizes, a surgical procedure is required. The liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate. For this reason, even if a part of the liver is removed by surgical method, when 20% of the liver remains, the liver grows again and preserves its function. However, if the cancer-causing tumor has spread to a very large area, preoperative embolization is applied to the patient. With the preoperative embolization procedure, an intervention is made to the tumor and a part of the liver, preventing blood flow. In addition, in order for the operation to be safe, the tumor is left open in a way and turns the blood into the healthy lung. It is extremely important to diagnose this condition at an early stage so that the cancer does not spread to other organs, especially the lung.