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cancer of the colon and rectum?
What are the causes colon cancer?
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
colon cancer diagnosed?
How can colon cancer be
are the treatments and survival for colon cancer?
Where can I buy
a home test kit for colon cancer?
information on colon cancer
What is cancer of the
colon and rectum?
colon is the part of the digestive system where the waste material is
stored. The rectum is the end of the colon adjacent to the anus.
Together, they form a long, muscular tube called the large intestine
(also known as the large bowel). Tumors of the colon and rectum are
growths arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. Benign
tumors of the large intestine are called polyps. Malignant tumors of the
large intestine are called cancers. Benign polyps do not invade nearby
tissue or spread to other parts of the body. Benign polyps can be easily
removed during colonoscopy, and are not life threatening. If benign
polyps are not removed from the large intestine, they can become
malignant (cancerous) over time. Most of the cancers of the large
intestine are believed to have developed from polyps. Cancer of the
colon and rectum (also referred to as colorectal cancer) can invade and
damage adjacent tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away and
spread to other parts of the body (such as liver and lung) where new
tumors form. The spread of colon cancer to distant organs is called
metastasis of the colon cancer. Once metastasis has occurred in
colorectal cancer, a complete cure of the cancer is unlikely.
What are the causes colon
Doctors are certain that colorectal cancer is not contagious (a person
cannot catch the disease from a cancer patient). Some people are more
likely to develop colorectal cancer than others. Factors that increase a
person's risk of colorectal cancer include high fat intake, a family
history of colorectal cancer and polyps, the presence of polyps in the
large intestine, and chronic ulcerative colitis.
What are the symptoms of
colon cancer? (top)
Symptoms of colon cancer are numerous and non-specific. They include
fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow
stools, diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight
loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Other conditions such as
irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's
disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease can have symptoms that
mimic colorectal cancer.
colon cancer diagnosed? (top)
colon cancer is suspected, either a lower GI series (barium enema x-ray)
or colonoscopy is performed to confirm the diagnosis and to localize the
barium enema involves taking x-rays of the colon and the rectum after
the patient is given an enema with a white, chalky liquid containing
barium. The barium outlines the large intestines on the x-rays. Tumors
and other abnormalities appear as dark shadows on the x-rays.
Colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a doctor
inserts a long, flexible viewing tube into the rectum for the purpose of
inspecting the inside of the entire colon. Colonoscopy is generally
considered more accurate than barium enema x-rays, especially in
detecting small polyps. If colon polyps are found, they are usually
removed through the colonoscopy and sent to the pathologist. The
pathologist examines the polyps under the microscope to check for
cancer. While the majority of the polyps removed through the
colonoscopies’ are benign, many are precancerous. Removal of
precancerous polyps prevents the future development of colon cancer from
If cancerous growths are found during colonoscopy, small
tissue samples (biopsies) can be obtained and examined under the
microscope to confirm the diagnosis. If colon cancer is confirmed by a
biopsy, staging examinations are performed to determine whether the
cancer has already spread to other organs. Since colorectal cancer tends
to spread to the lungs and the liver, staging tests usually include
chest x-rays, ultrasonography, or a CAT scan of the lungs, liver, and
How can colon cancer be
colon cancers can be well advanced before they are detected. The most
effective prevention of colon cancer is
early detection and removal of precancerous colon polyps before they
turn cancerous. Even in cases where cancer has already developed, early
detection still significantly improves the chances of a cure by surgically removing the cancer
before the disease spreads to other organs. Multiple world health
organizations have suggested general screening guidelines.
are the treatments and survival for colon cancer? (top)
Surgery is the most
common treatment for colorectal cancer. During surgery, the tumor, a
small margin of the surrounding healthy bowel, and adjacent lymph nodes
are removed. The surgeon then reconnects the healthy sections of the
bowel. In patients with rectal cancer, the rectum is permanently
removed. The surgeon then creates an opening (colostomy) on the abdomen
wall through which solid waste in the colon is excreted. Specially
trained nurses (enterostomal therapists) can help patients adjust to
colostomies, and most patients with colostomies return to a normal
The long term prognosis after surgery depends on whether
the cancer has spread to other organs (metastasis). The risk of
metastasis is proportional to the depth of penetration of the cancer
into the bowel wall. In patients with early colon cancer which is
limited to the superficial layer of the bowel wall, surgery is often the
only treatment needed. These patients can experience long term survival
in excess of eighty percent. In patients with advanced colon cancer,
wherein the tumor has penetrated beyond the bowel wall and there is
evidence of metastasis to distant organs, the five year survival rate is
less than ten percent.
In some patients, there is no evidence of distant
metastasis at the time of surgery, but the cancer has penetrated deeply
into the colon wall, or reached adjacent lymph nodes. These patients are
at risk of tumor recurrence either locally or in distant organs.
in these patients may delay tumor recurrence and improve
to purchase a home test kit for colon cancer
More information on
For additional information on cancer,
please visit the below links to the
National Cancer Institute
A to Z list of
Finding clinical trials