Colon Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer is a form and type of cancer which takes place in your colon, also known as the large intestine or rectum. These organs make up the lower section of our digestive system.
The symptoms, treatments, and general outlook for colorectal cancer vary as they depend on when this cancer is first diagnosed.
Stages of Colon Cancer
Doctors and GPs use a staging system to gauge how far along the cancer is, it’s vital that doctors know which stage the cancer is on because it helps them determine the best treatment plan and it also helps them estimate your long-term outlook.
The stages range from 0 to 4, with 0 being the earliest stage and 4 being the latest stage. The stages are defined as follows:
- Stage 0- This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ, during this stage abnormal cells can only be found in the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
- Stage 1- In this stage, the cancer has breached the mucosa (lining) of the colon or rectum and may have even grown into the muscle layer.
- Stage 2- The cancer will now have spread to the walls of the colon or rectum through the lining, potentially even through the walls to nearby tissues.
- Stage 3- In this stage, the cancer has moved to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 4- The final stage has the cancer spread out to other distant organs such as the liver, or your lungs.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer has symptoms for both early stages as well as late stages, if you experience symptoms between stages 0 to 2 they’ll typically include the following:
- Changes in stool colour
- Changes in stool shape
- Bloody stool
- Bleeding from the rectal area
- Excessive gas
- Abdominal cramps and pains.
Stage 3 to 4 symptoms include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Weight loss
- Long term changes in your stool
If the cancer spreads to other parts of your body, the symptoms can also include:
- Swelling, mainly of the hands and feet
- Breathing difficulties
- Chronic headaches
- Blurred vision
- Bone fractures
Causes of Colon Cancer
Researchers are still looking into the direct causes of colon cancer, but it’s understood that it may be caused by mutations on a genetic level that can either be inherited or acquired. Although the mutations don’t directly cause colon cancer, they make you more susceptible to developing it.
Certain mutations can also cause abnormal cells to accumulate in the mucosa of the colon, which forms polyps, whilst not dangerous initially, they can become cancerous.
There are also risk factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer development, which include:
- Being over the age of 50
- A history of polyps
- Having a family history of colorectal cancer
- Being of African descent or Ashkenazi Jewish descent
- Being overweight
- Being a smoker or heavy drinker
- Suffering from type 2 diabetes
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Having a diet that consists of considerable amounts of processed meats
Treatments for Colon Cancer
If after reading this article and you feel like the above symptoms are present, then you can choose to pay for a Private ColoAlert Bowel Cancer Stool Test.
ColoAlert is an award-winning next-generation colorectal cancer home screening test that was developed to detect changes in the bowel accurately and earlier than the “fit” test, testing is recommended every three years from the age of 45.