WHAT IS IT?
The colon cancer is a disease in which malignant cells are located in the middle and longest portion of the large intestine. It’s a fairly common type of cancer in many countries, but also easy to detect, has a high degree of healing and takes a long time to develop. The colon, along with the rectum (end portion of the intestine), is where feces are stored before being expelled to the outside through the anus. To undertake the work, accumulated waste products, making it a suitable place for the development of cancer. It is therefore important to reduce the build time to a minimum by adopting a balanced diet to provide the maximum intestinal transit.
- Age. Most cases of colon cancer occurs in patients older than 50 years.
- Diet. The colon cancer appears to be associated with diets rich in fats and low in fiber. In this sense, we are currently conducting numerous investigations.
- Heredity. In colon cancer plays an important role in the family inheritance, since there is a possibility that is transmitted hereditarily and predisposes a person to suffer from the disease. However, this cancer can be detected and treated at an early stage.
- Medical history. It has been shown that those who are more prone to this disease are people who have or have had: polyps (benign growth) of the colon or rectum, ulcerative colitis (inflammation or ulceration of the colon) cancer as breast, uterus or ovary.
- Relatives who have also suffered from colon cancer .
- Lifestyle. Certain factors may depend on the style of life and predispose to the development of colon cancer , for example, obesity , sedentary lifestyle and smoking.
SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER
The colon cancer has a long evolution. Begins with the formation of a polyp (bump that forms a membrane with body) benign. The most common complaints are in the advanced stage of the disease and may be:
- Changes in bowel habits.
- Diarrhea or feeling in your belly full.
- Blood in the stool.
- Changes in stool consistency.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort.
- Weight loss for no apparent reason.
- Loss of appetite.
- Constant tiredness.
Research in this field has shown that some types of colon cancer arising from polyps (small benign lumps).Early detection and removal of polyps can help prevent the onset of the disease. One cause of the occurrence ofcolon cancer is a genetic predisposition due to alterations in some genes, therefore, individuals with family members who are or have been affected by the illness should attend regular checkups. Some unhealthy habits may also be the cause of the onset of the disease, so the following tips can be very beneficial:
- Do not abuse alcohol or snuff.
- Managing obesity. Avoid overeating and excess calories in the diet.
- Maintain adequate physical activity to age.
- Make exercise a regular basis.
As for food, eating a balanced diet is an important preventive factor. It is advisable, therefore, the following recommendations:
- No abuse of foods high in fat.
- Reduce fat intake so it does not exceed 20% of total calories in the diet.
- Consume preferably monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated (fish oil).
- Reduce consumption of red meat.
- Increase consumption of fish and chicken.
- Incorporate foods rich in dietary fiber. Take a fiber of at least 25 grams daily, in the form of cereals and bread.
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables. Consuming optimal amounts of fruits and vegetables, especially brassicas (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli), and legumes.
The colon cancer have very positive expectations if caught early. The doctor informs the patient on the disease status, treatment, side effects of it and where to find support associations. To detect colon cancer using several techniques, such as those described below:
- Digital rectal examination. It’s a physical examination the physician performed by inserting a finger into the anus to detect anomalies in the lower digestive tract, such as blood, abnormal growths, or if the patient feels pain.
- Sigmoidoscopy. Is an exploration that involves inserting a tube through the anus that transmits light and image, and called an endoscope. With it you can examine the rectum and the end of the colon (60 cm), and detect some of the polyps that might be there.
- Colonoscopy. It is an exploration similar to sigmoidoscopy, but the tube is longer and used to scroll through the entire colon. Facilitates tissue sampling (biopsy) in areas where it is suspected that there might be a tumor, and then performed a study with a microscope. Usually done under anesthesia and the risk of complications is very low.
- Genetic study. If you have a family history or suspicion of the possibility of hereditary cancer, it is advisable to perform a genetic test for abnormalities. In case of genetic alterations in the family, should start the exploration of the colon and rectum at an early age (20 years) and continue periodically.
- Occult blood test (FOBT). Also known by its acronym in English: FOBT, and consists of a test to detect blood in the stool. It has been shown that this test reduces the likelihood of death from colon cancer .
- Barium enema with double contrast. It consists of a series of radiographs of the colon and rectum are taken after the patient had been applied an enema (Enema) with a white chalky solution containing barium to show in detail the colon radiologically and rectum.
Among the treatments that are commonly followed: surgery or removal of the affected area, radiation or application of high-energy rays in order to kill cancer cells, chemotherapy or administration of drugs that kill cancer cells and immunotherapy or stimulation of the patient’s own defense system to make it to eliminate the harmful cells. Although these treatments should not cause serious disorders, none of them free of side effects, which may be more or less serious depending on the patient.
- Surgery: Using a surgical operation, remove the party affected by cancer. It is practiced in all stages of disease extent, but when it comes to early-stage tumors can be removed through the colonoscope polyp for examination.According to the results, we will remove the cancer and some surrounding healthy tissue, then cleanse the lymph of the area. Another possibility is to make an opening from the colon to the outside (colostomy), in which case the person will have to use a special bag for external use where both the feces. The colostomy may be temporary or permanent.
- Radiotherapy. It consists of applying high-energy rays to the affected area in order to destroy cancer cells. It affects only the area being treated, and may be given before surgery (to shrink the tumor and remove it more easily), or after surgery (to finish to destroy cancer cells that may have been).
- Chemotherapy. Consists in the administration of drugs that destroy cancer cells. Is performed by inserting a tube into a vein (catheter), and injecting the drugs through a pumping system. It is usually given after surgery.
- Immunotherapy. Is to stimulate or restore the body’s own immune defenses. This will use natural products or manufactured in the laboratory.
Side effects vary according to the treatment, but most are temporary. The patient should inform the doctor about that may arise.
- Surgery can cause pain and weakness in the affected area and diarrhea temporarily. And if it is necessary to perform a colostomy, it may cause skin irritation around the opening made.
- Chemotherapy, in turn, affects both normal and cancerous cells can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss (although it always grows back), diarrhea and fatigue.
- Immunotherapy can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, weakness and nausea. Control and monitoring of colon cancer
- After treatment, you have to make some important follow-up activities that can help patients cope with their situation.
- Follow-up care. After completion of therapy and for years, periodic examinations are very important for the patient because they can detect cancer recurrence. Follow-up tests include careful general physical examination and a rectal examination more specific, colonoscopy and blood tests for tumor markers such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). If symptoms or the results of common tests suggest a recurrence of cancer, may also be chest radiographs, CT scans and testing of magnetic resonance imaging. Before any new symptoms or persistent, consult your doctor immediately.
- Tumor markers. The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a substance found in the blood of some people withcolon cancer . The blood test carcinoembryonic antigen most often used with other tests to monitor patients who have had cancer and received treatment. This test can be early warning of a cancer recurrence. The carcinoembryonic antigen may be present in the blood of some people without colon cancer . Smoking also can increase the levels of this antigen. So do not be regarded as a specific test to detect colon cancer .
- For patients with colostomies. To treat colon cancer few currently required permanent colostomy. Most of these are carried out due to tumors that are near the end or lower rectum. If the patient has had a colostomy, monitoring is important. You may feel worried or isolated from normal activities. A colostomy therapist can teach patients to deal with your colostomy. Once detected the colon cancer , we must make a series of tests to determine if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
Stages of the disease: the doctor needs to know which of them the cancer to plan treatment.
- Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ: At this early stage, cancer is found in the superficial layer of the colon.
- Stage I: Cancer has spread to the second and third layers, but has not yet reached the deepest part of the intestine and is less than 2 cm.
- Stage II: Cancer has spread to the innermost layer of the colon, but not to lymph nodes, which spread throughout the body can produce and store cells that fight infection. The tumor is larger than 2 cm in diameter.
- Stage III: The cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes but not to other organs.
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other organs of the body (mainly tends to invade the liver and lungs).