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How Does Colon Cancer Start?

The digestive system of the body includes the colon. It is the digestive system helps the body expel waste by removing and processing nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, proteins, and water) from meals. The digestive system comprises of the esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. The major parts of the large intestine include the colon and the rectum. Colon cancer develops in the colon of the large intestine which is the final part of the digestive tract. Colorectal Cancer can affect any individual of any age, but it often affects older people. The interior of the colon frequently develops small, benign (noncancerous) cell groupings known as polyps as the earliest signs of the disease. Colon cancer may eventually emerge from some of these polyps. Doctors prescribe routine screening checks to help prevent Colorectal Cancer and to find and remove polyps before they transform into cancer.

Causes of Colon Cancer

There can be various causes of colon cancer. The exact cause of colon cancer is still under research. However, many factors can be related to it, which include:

Cells often go through an organized growth, division, and death process. Cancer can arise when cells grow and divide out of control and do not stop at the expected time in their life cycle.

Although the actual causes of colon cancer is unknown, several variables may raise the risk.

DNA alterations within cells can cause cancer to develop. Oncogenes are specific genes that support cell growth, division, and survival. Tumor suppressor genes aid the regulation of cell division and cell death.

The DNA modifications affect the oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes , which may result in a number of gene alterations that may causes colon cancer.

Risk factors for Colon Cancer

There are several factors that can increase the risk factors of colon cancer such as:

Smoking 

The use of tobacco can increase the chances of colon cancer.

Diet

With the modern lifestyle, the increased consumption of unhealthy, processed foods and alcohol can increase the risk of the incidence of colon cancer. As the colon is an important part of the digestive system, the kind of food habits has a greater impact on cancer incidence. The lack of proper nutrition such as fiber in the dietary habits of the individual can influence the health and increase the risk of cancer. 

Genetic Factors

DNA alterations or genetic damage can cause uncontrolled cell proliferation. Instead of being inherited from a family member, the majority of genetic mutations take place during a person’s lifetime. Approximately 5–10% of colon cancers are due to particular genetic disorders that raise the chance of polyps, colorectal cancer, and maybe other cancers in some family members. Colon cancer risk increases along with the several genetic diseases.

Polyps

Precancerous polyps that grow in the large intestine can lead to colon cancer. If a surgeon does not remove some of these polyps during the first few rounds of treatment, they can develop into malignant colon cancer. Polyp types include:

Hyperplastic polyps

Hyperplastic polyps are usually benign. Therefore, they seldom have the possibility of causing colon cancer. 

Adenomas 

Adenomas may resemble the healthy colon’s lining, but the difference can be identified when examined under a microscope. There is a possibility of these adenomas becoming cancerous.

Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

  1. Unusual changes in the bowel habits
  2. Constipation 
  3. Diarrhea 
  4. Change in stool consistency
  5. Blood in stool 
  6. Persistant bloating, cramps 
  7. Abdominal pain 
  8. Unexplained weight loss

Staging of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer must be staged in order to choose the most effective treatment strategy. The TNM staging technique is commonly helps to stage cases of Colorectal Cancer. The system takes into account the following things:

Primary cancer (T)

T denotes the size of the initial tumor and whether or not the colon’s wall has been affected by the cancer’s growth or its metastasis to nearby organs or tissues.

Regional lymph nodes (N)

N stands for whether neighboring lymph nodes have been colonized by cancer cells.

Distant metastases (M)

M denotes if cancer has spread (metastasized) from the colon to the lungs or liver, among other organs. 

Metastasis denotes the spread of cancer cells to organs outside of the colon. This condition is also known as stage IV Colorectal Cancer or advanced Colorectal Cancer. If the cancer is spread to the adjacent organs, then it is Stage III Colorectal Cancer, and if it affects other organs as well, then the cancer is in Stage IV. If the cancer is diagnosed in both the rectum and the Colorectal, then it can be colorectal cancer.

Treatment Options for Colon Cancer

There are various treatment options available for colon cancer based on various factors. The treatment will be according to the tumor stage and the patient’s condition. 

Surgery

The surgeon may be able to surgically remove malignant polyps when colon cancer is still in its early stages. A good prognosis of whether the polyp hasn’t grown into the gut wall.

The surgeon might also have to remove some of the lymph nodes close to the colon or rectum, if the cancer has spread to the gut walls. Moreover, the remaining healthy section of the colon may be able to be reattached to the rectum by your surgeon. In case this is not possible, then a colostomy may take place. For the purpose of removing waste, the surgeon will make an opening in the abdominal wall. A colostomy can be either short-term or long-term.

Chemotherapy

It uses medication to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is frequently administered following surgery to patients with colon cancer in order to destroy any remaining malignant cells. The growth of cancers is also slowed down by chemotherapy.

The following are some examples of colon cancer chemotherapy drugs:

  • irinotecan (Camptosar)
  • capecitabine (Xeloda)
  • oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
  • fluorouracil

Radiation

Before and after surgery, radiation uses a potent energy beam, comparable to that in X-rays, to target and eliminate malignant cells. Chemotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with radiation therapy.

Conclusion 

The start of colon cancer can be due to the underlying risk factors or due to the genetic mutations within the individuals. The interior of the colon frequently develops small, benign (noncancerous) cell groupings known as polyps as the earliest signs of the disease. Colorectal Cancer may eventually emerge from some of these polyps. In order to find and remove polyps before they transform into cancer, doctors prescribe routine screening checks to help prevent colon cancer. These polyps can become cancerous at a later stage. This marks the beginning of Colorectal Cancer. 

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