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Colon Cancer Symptoms and Sign


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In the United States, around 1000 patients die each day from complications of cancer. Approximately 2.4 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the dreaded disease in 2007. The exact cause of cancer is unknown. It is only characterized by the abnormal cell division and growth. Genetics, exposure to chemicals and lifestyle are just some of the risk factors in cancer.

Colon cancer is a particular cancer in which the primary affected area is the colon. Many studies showed that people with colon cancer are those who have been smoking, drinking excessively, suffers from inflammatory bowel disease and are obese. Regular colon cancer screenings should be accomplished if you are considered to be at risk. This kinds of screenings can help you fight against any kind of colon cancer that might decide to rear its ugly head. It's important to take care of the matter before it becomes too much of a problem.

If you are exhibiting the following colon cancer symptoms, you should be evaluated for colorectal cancer at once.

1. Irregular bowel movements: you could have less or more bowel movements if you have colon cancer. You can even experience constipation more often. This is because the tumor in your colon is already obstructing the regular flow of your bowel.

2. Stomach Cramps- due to bowel obstruction, you will feel stomach cramps and sometimes even bloating. As the tumor grows bigger, it could actually be perforating the bowel wall causing pain and discomfort.

3. Bloody Stool- you might observe bleeding in your bowel. Sometimes the blood will be present in a very small amount and not be noticed. But there are also cases, where the stool is really bloody. A fecal occult blood test can confirm presence of blood in your stool.

4. Unexplained weight loss- one of the classic sign of cancer is weight loss. If you are losing weight even if you are not trying, you should ask your doctor.

5. Fatigue- another colon cancer symptom to look out for is unexplained tiredness. Some experts link this symptom to anemia or iron deficiency. To be sure, you should have your blood checked.

6. Nausea and vomiting- because of the tumor in your colon area, you might feel nauseous and even vomit for no apparent reason.

7. Gassy- obstruction of the colon by a tumor causes air to be trapped.

Diagnosing colon cancer can be done in a number of ways. Your doctor could perform a digital rectal exam to check for abnormal areas in your rectum. Another way is to take endoscopic images of your colon. This is done by inserting a lighted device in you rectum and images are transmitted to a monitor. This is a very accurate test and could also differentiate between a polyp and a tumor growth.

If detected early, colon cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The key is early diagnosis. Chances for survival are higher for people who are diagnosed at the early stages of colon cancer. This is the reason why you should be evaluated or screened by a cancer expert especially if you are exhibiting classic colon cancer symptoms.

Colon Cancer Treatment

Surgical procedures Your surgeon removes the part of your colon that contains the cancer, along with a margin of normal tissue on either side of the cancer to help ensure that no cancer is left behind. Nearby lymph nodes are usually also removed and tested for cancer.

Your surgeon is often able to reconnect the healthy portions of your colon or rectum. But when that's not possible, for instance if the cancer is at the outlet of your rectum, you may need to have a permanent or temporary colostomy.

This involves creating an opening in the wall of your abdomen from a portion of the remaining bowel for the elimination of body wastes into a special bag. Sometimes the colostomy is only temporary, allowing your colon or rectum time to heal after surgery.

In some cases, however, the colostomy may be permanent. In cases of rare, inherited syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis, or inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, you may need removal of your entire colon and rectum as a prophylactic measure.Then, in a procedure known as ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, your surgeon will likely construct a pouch from the end of your small intestine that attaches directly to your anus. This allows you to expel waste normally, although you may have several watery bowel movements a day.

Side effects of colon cancer surgery may include short-term pain and tenderness, and temporary constipation or diarrhea. If you have a colostomy, you may develop an irritation on the skin around the opening (stoma). If your cancer is small, localized in a polyp and in a very early stage, your surgeon may be able to remove it completely during a colonoscopy. If the pathologist determines that the cancer in the polyp doesn't involve the base — where the polyp is attached to the bowel wall — then there is a good chance that the cancer has been completely eliminated. Some larger polyps may be removed using laparoscopic surgery. In this procedure, your surgeon performs the operation through several tiny incisions in your abdominal wall, using small instruments with attached cameras that display your colon on a video monitor.

He or she may also take samples from the lymph nodes that drain the area where the cancer is located. Studies have found that people undergoing this procedure need less pain medication and leave the hospital a day earlier on average. Also, people who have this procedure don't have higher rates of recurrence than those who choose the open surgery.

If your cancer is advanced or your health poor, only a small portion of your colon or rectum may be removed. This isn't as effective as surgeries that remove more tissue, and doctors mainly do this to relieve blockages or bleeding. This is referred to as palliative surgery; it isn't curative.

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