About the disease
Colon cancer develops in epithelial tissue of human body, which is covering all internal organs. Mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract is the one that creates epithelial tissue. From anatomic point of view colon is a terminal end of the gastrointestinal tract, originating from the valve where the small intestine transits into the large and ends in anus.
This disease is most common in developed countries such as Germany, America, China, Japan. It is very rare in Africa and its southern parts. Such fact can be explained by different lifestyles, longer life expectancy and nutritional preferences. Colon cancer is also known as cancer of large intestine. It is more common in men than women. Colon cancer in most cases develops after the age of 50, but it can affect younger population. Prognosis of recovery is 70% if there was timely treatment and disease was not progressed. Most common causes of colon cancer are:
- Age. Chances of colon cancer increase after age 50.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and disease of Crohn.
- Genetic predisposition. If the person has close relatives (parents, siblings), who had had bowel cancer - risk is greatly increased. Scientists estimate that 25% of cases of intestinal cancer are caused by genetic factors. Some tumors are hereditary, while others can be acquired throughout life. In human genetic code there are certain cancer suppressing genes, that can prevent formation of cancerous tumors by regulating the growth of human cells. They also prevent rapid and uncontrolled cell division. If a person has genetic predisposition these genes cease to function properly and this subsequently leads to development of cancerous tumors.
- The ethnic factor. It is noted that people of Jewish and Arab origin have colon cancer more often.
- Bad dietary habits. Fatty food and refined carbohydrates, such as sugar.
- Lack of physical inactivity. People leading sedentary lifestyle are also under the risk zone. Sedentary lifestyle weakens intestine muscles. As a result, food stagnates in the intestine, the person suffers from constipation with harmful bacteria accumulating in colon. As a result, fermentation process starts when harmful toxins are produced and the gut function is disrupted.
- Smoking. Recent studies have discovered that smokers are 20 - 30% more likely to have cancer of large intestine. When smoking, person gets toxic and carcinogenic substances into his lungs, which are later soaked into the blood and transmitted into large intestine.
- Chronic alcoholism. Alcohol has a destructive effect on the inner wall of the intestine forming toxic metabolites, which later turn into malignant cells.
- Polyps. Precancerous polyps in the bowel can transform into a cancerous tumor.
- Digital rectal examination. This procedure is performed at a doctor's office and does not require any special equipment. For rectal examination patient needs to lie on side or on the back with legs bent at the knee, so that doctor can examine lower rectum department for the presence of tumors.
- Endoscopy uses small camera to inspect inner walls of colon.
- Colonoscopy uses flexible tube which is inserted into rectum. Colonoscopy image displayed on the monitor allows doctor see an entire colon. If during the procedure the physician detects polyps, he can immediately remove them or take tissue samples for further histological analysis.
- Blood tests may reveal anemia, which is a consequence of bleeding intestinal tumor. Also, according to Science Daily, which is a medical site, blood sample can shows with 96% precision the exact location of cancer.
- Biopsy uses tissue samples for microscopic examination.
The most effective treatment for colon cancer is surgery. Its type usually depends on the stage of disease and general health condition of patient. Adjunctive treatment includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The majority of patients (85-90%) who have colon cancer need to undergo surgery.
- Surgical laparoscopic resection is considered to be a safer choice of surgery for patients, as the recovery time is quicker and you can resume your normal lifestyle quicker. Its aim is to diminish cancerous malformation.
- Colectomy and hemicolectomy are open surgeries, when a doctor makes one large incision or a series of small incisions on the anterior abdomen wall of abdomen. Recovery depends on patient's age and the extent of surgery.
- Chemotherapeutic treatment involves administration of drugs that can reduce probability of metastasis and prevent its rapid growth. Chemotherapy is often used before or after surgery. The use of chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of colon cancer is often accompanied by
- Radiotherapy.The method uses X-rays, which have a destructive effect on tumor cells. Radiation therapy may be used postoperatively to destroy cancer cells remaining after surgical intervention, thereby preventing the occurrence of secondary tumors. Radioactive method can also be used preoperatively to reduce large volume of the tumor. This greatly simplifies the task of the surgeon during the subsequent removal of the tumors.