Cancer » Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is an important type of cancer as it develops in the digestive system of the human body. The cancerous cells primarily target the colon and may metastasize to other parts at a later stage. The longest part of the large intestine is known as colon and is linked to the rectum. Formation of cancerous tumors in the colon and rectum simultaneously is known as colorectal cancer or bowel cancer.
Nature of colon cancer
Colon cancer is one of the major health concerns worldwide and the number of cases concerned with the disease is considerable. Males and females are equally prone to this cancer and the disease may occur at any age. Colon plays a vital role in extracting salts and water from the solid wastes generated in the body. Thus, efficient functioning of colon is very necessary for supplying the body with sufficient salts and water and assisting the digestive system to function smoothly.
Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of colon cancer comprising almost 95% of the overall cases. It is the third major type of cancer occurring in the United States. Depending upon its location, the colon can be classified into four areas as sigmoid, transverse, ascending and descending colon. The cancerous cells may develop in any of these four parts. Adenocarcinoma is the condition in which the malignant cells attack the tissues present in the mucosa. Mucosa generates important fluid called mucus that helps in smooth passage of solid wastes from the body.
The malignant cells attack the healthy tissues present in the inner layers of the colon and upset their normal functioning. This impacts the overall coordination between the tissues and other live and healthy cells. Thus, the normal pattern of cell division and growth gets hampered. Invasion of tissues leads to insufficient supply of resources to the body cells and forces them to behave abnormally. Malignant cells take the benefit of such unnatural behavior of cells and bring about an unnecessary and excessive cell growth and division. The cells that do fall to the infection are killed and replaced by the cancerous ones.
The nature of the disease
These cancerous cells accumulate in the infected area to form a lump of infected cells called tumors. These tumors metastasize rapidly and damage tissues and cells present in the adjacent areas. Some of the advanced techniques like biopsy, computed tomography (CT) scan and endoscopy are helpful in detecting the tumors well in time. Ultrasound and positron emission tomography (PET) test are also useful in examining the body internally. Most of the tumors can be eliminated by surgery if the intensity is not too severe.
Tumors are of two important types; benign and cancerous. Benign tumors are a kind of non-cancerous tumors that may develop in the pre-cancerous stages and weaken the health of body cells and tissues. These tumors do not cause damage to the cells and tissues but can obstruct them from functioning normally. It is easy to cure such tumors as they do not metastasize and rarely have the chances of recurrence. Surgery is the best way to treat benign tumors.
Cancerous tumors behave exactly opposite to the benign ones. They metastasize rapidly and form separate tumors in the areas they invade. They are a severe threat to the normal cells and tissues and the intensity of tumors is very high. They can reappear easily and thus, are difficult to cure completely.
Benign tumors have the potential to turn cancerous if not attended in time. Digital rectal exam (DRE), colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are useful in detecting the form and intensity of tumors and helps in early diagnosis and treatment of the same.
Prevent colon cancer
Colon is a vital part of the digestive system and thus, any unusualness in the digestion of food must be diagnosed at the earliest. Tumors in the colon may also impact the bowel movement and cause pains during the passage of stools. Though the cancer can occur at any age, most of the cases of this cancer have been detected in people above 50 years of age. Being obese and consuming fat-rich food is can be a big disadvantage. Consume nutritious food rich in proteins and vitamins and include vegetables and fruits in your daily diet. Eating salads daily can benefit well in keeping your immune system intact. Avoid over-consumption of red meat.
Excess alcohol consumption, tobacco chewing and smoking must be strictly avoided to keep your body tissues functioning normally and efficiently. Also, you must pay attention to your immune system and any infection or internal injury, which does not heal by normal medication, must be diagnosed thoroughly. Personal or family history of the colon, rectal or colorectal cancer can put a person at considerably higher risk of getting infected by the disease. Presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) can create conditions conducive for infectious cells to develop freely and without any major opposition from the internal cells and tissues of the body. Hence, one needs to be careful with his sexual activities and avoid too many sex-partners. Diarrhea, abdominal pains and irregular movement of bowels are some of the early symptoms of the disease. Sudden loss in weight, weakness and fatigue are also some of the indirect symptoms of abnormal cell behavior.
Colon cancer is curable in the cases where the tumors are detected in the developmental or the initial stages. Surgery is the most common and reliable treatment for pre-mature tumors. Treatment by chemicals (chemotherapy) and radiation (radiotherapy) are some other advanced treatment methods.