Colon cancer – Causes, symptoms, and more
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the country. It is the type of health condition that starts in the large bowel, or the colon, which is the longest part of the human intestine. It originates in the colon’s lining and glands. Such conditions begin in polyps and, if untreated, can spread to other parts. Though better screening facilities and therapy have reduced the fatalities, colon cancer cases continue to rise.
Therapists and researchers are yet to isolate one or more specific causes of colon cancer. But they have identified many risk factors that increase the possibility of the condition. They include unhealthy lifestyles, high Body mass index (BMI), excessive consumption of processed, unhealthy, and junk food, history of the illness in the family, previous incidence of colorectal polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inherited diseases like lynch syndrome.
No specific symptoms are linked to colon cancer. The typical indications of the condition overlap with symptoms of other diseases, and patients usually miss them. Many take localized remedies and do not consult a health specialist until the symptoms become severe. Symptoms that can indicate this condition include pain in the abdomen, tenderness in the lower abdomen, frequent changes in bowel movements like diarrhea or constipation, narrow or bloody stools, unexplained weight loss, frequent bloating, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Health experts recommend therapy based on the size of cancer and its location. They diagnose cancer staging to examine how far it has grown, determine if it has spread to other body parts or nearby tissues, and start treatment accordingly. Doctors use blood tests, imaging tests like Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scan, and other minimally invasive procedures like biopsy and colonoscopy.
Doctors may use surgical procedures like colonoscopy to remove early or first-stage tumors. If the condition is advanced to stages II, III, or IV, they use a surgical procedure called colon resection to remove the affected part of the colon.
Doctors use chemotherapy three to six months after a surgical procedure to ensure no cancerous cells remain. Doctors also use chemotherapy to treat patients with stage IV cancer to prolong their survival.
Doctors direct high-energy radiation beams to the affected area in the colon after surgery. Radiation helps to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure where doctors destroy the cancerous cells in the colon using extreme heat or cold ablation methods with the help of probes and needles that destroy the cells.
Once diagnosed, oncologists prescribe other biomarkers or tests like DNA Mismatch Repair (MMR) or Micro-Satellite Instability (MSI) testing and test for mutations in genes like KRA, NRA, BRAF, and HER2. These tests help them to determine if the patients can receive targeted or immunotherapy. If tests reveal that cancer has specific biomarkers, doctors use targeted therapy which only attacks those specific receptors and prevents the growth of new cells.
Many FDA-approved immunotherapy treatments use the patient’s immune system to augment the anti-tumor responses. Doctors may use immunotherapy as the first line of treatment for those with advanced conditions.
Once a person turns 45, regular screening can identify precancerous cells if they are at risk. At this stage, the disease is completely curable. To reduce the risks, you can also adopt other natural remedies like regular physical activity to maintain the ideal weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and eat a mineral and vitamin-rich nutritional regime high in plant-based food and low in red meat.
Foods to eat and avoid
A healthy meal plan reduces the risk of colon cancer and is also key for those recovering from colon cancer treatment. People at risk and those recovering should gradually increase the consumption of specific foods and avoid certain food groups. Foods to eat include beans and legumes, berries, carrots, coffee, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, spinach, fish, lean meat without skin and fat, vitamin D-rich food, probiotics, and whole grains. Meanwhile, foods with a high glycemic index can be avoided in such situations, like white rice, refined flour, sugar, red meat, and processed meats.
Following a healthy nutritional plan is crucial to help you regain the lost energy and tackle the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. You should drink more water and fluids to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea or nausea. Eating frequent smaller meals throughout the day ensures no additional load on your intestine.
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