Colon Cancer Symptoms and Treatments
If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, you’ll know several different treatment options are available. Learn about the stages of colon cancer, symptoms, and treatments. Also, learn about inherited syndromes that increase your risk. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as you suspect you have colon cancer so that you can receive proper treatment.
Stages of colon cancer
There are several different stages of colon cancer. Stage 3 colon cancer, for example, has spread beyond the colon walls into the lymph nodes and other structures. Stage 4 colon cancer has spread to more distant organs. It has also spread to the peritoneum, the membrane that holds abdominal organs in place.
Stage 1 colorectal cancer is usually the earliest stage and is contained in the colon walls. The tumor is generally small and has not spread to other body parts. Early symptoms may include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and anemia. Treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor and radiation therapy. In some cases, chemotherapy may also be used.
Stage 2 colon cancer has spread to the colon walls but not to lymph nodes. Therefore, it can be removed through a colonoscopy. However, a partial colectomy may be required if the cancer is large or has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Symptoms of colon cancer
Colon cancer symptoms are common and subtle, but you should see your doctor if you notice any of them. Changes in bowel habits, including constipation, bloating, and dark-colored stools, are common signs of the disease. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, they may be signs of colon cancer. The first step to treatment is early detection. Make an appointment for an examination as soon as you notice these signs.
If the colon cancer is caught early, it can be removed without cutting the abdominal wall. Instead, a doctor can insert a thin, flexible tube with a cutting tool into the colon and remove the cancer. The next step is chemotherapy, which involves taking drugs to kill cancer cells. These treatments can control tumor growth and minimize the chances of cancer recurring.
Treatment for colon cancer depends on the disease’s stage, the tumor’s location, and the type of cancer. However, the early detection of colon cancer can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life.
Treatment options for colon cancer
Treatment options for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. Often considered second-line therapies, these treatments can extend the lives of patients with more advanced colon cancer. However, they are not always practical. Targeted therapies may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy. In some cases, targeted therapies may also cure colon cancer in its early stages.
Newer agents target specific growth-related proteins and can help manage colon cancer symptoms. However, many people with this type of cancer are not candidates for these treatments. The most common treatment for stage II and III colon cancers is chemotherapy. Some patients may benefit from immunotherapy as well.
Patients with stage III or stage IV colon cancer may require chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery to remove cancer. These treatments are usually combined to ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate treatment. For example, the doctor may use surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes or a combination of treatments to reduce the chances of recurrence. However, patients with colon cancer may also undergo clinical trials to test new treatments.