Here we are going to share information on the topic “How I knew I had colon cancer.” When cells in your rectum and large intestine proliferate out of control, colon cancer results. The kind and stage of colon cancer can affect the course of treatment.
One kind of cancer that begins in the rectum or colon (large intestine) is called colon cancer. The organs that comprise the lower part of your digestive system are your colon and rectum.
How I knew I had colon cancer
When certain prevalent skin cancers are taken out of the picture, colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Actually, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society (ACS) Trusted Source, around 1 in 25 women and 1 in 23 men will acquire colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
Generally speaking, the stage of colon cancer at the time of diagnosis will determine the symptoms, course of therapy, and prognosis.
Find out more about the stages, causes, and risk factors of colon cancer, as well as resources to assist in finding assistance.
Colon cancer stages
Staging is a common guideline used by doctors to determine the stage of cancer. The cancer’s stage is crucial information for a doctor to know because it affects which therapy option is best for you. It’s also a useful tool for projecting your long-term prospects.
The earliest stage of colon cancer is called stage 0, while the most advanced stage is called stage 4.
The stages are defined as follows:
Often referred to as carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells are limited to the colon’s or rectum’s inner lining at this stage.
The cancer has developed into the muscular layer and has pierced the mucosa, or lining, of the colon or rectum. It hasn’t moved to other bodily parts or adjacent lymph nodes.
The cancer has not yet reached the lymph nodes but has progressed to the walls of the colon or rectum, or through the walls to neighboring tissues.
The tumor has spread to the lymph nodes but has not reached other bodily regions.
The cancer has progressed to distant organs like the lungs or liver.
How I knew I had colon cancer
What signs of colon cancer are present?
In the early stages of colon cancer, you may not exhibit any symptoms at all. If you do go through phases 0 through 2, your symptoms will typically include:
- Altered color and shape of the stool (such as narrowing it)
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Too much gas
- Spasms in the abdomen and discomfort
Numerous less serious illnesses can potentially be the cause of many of these symptoms. If, however, any of these symptoms persist for more than a week or two, it’s wise to consult a physician. Your doctor and you can discuss your symptoms and determine whether a colon cancer screening is necessary.
Stages three or four of the illness (Symptoms in the later stages)
Stages 3 and 4 of colon cancer are when symptoms are most prominent. Along with the symptoms listed above, you may additionally encounter:
- Extreme exhaustion
- Inexplicable vulnerability
- Alterations in your stool that occur accidentally and stay longer than a month
- A sensation that vomiting won’t go away entirely
In the event that colon cancer extends to different body areas, you can additionally encounter:
- breathing problems jaundice, or yellow eyes and skin edema in the hands or feet
- persistent headaches
- eyesight problems bone fractures
Symptoms by stage
Stage 1 symptoms
|Stage 2 symptoms
|Stage 3 symptoms
|Stage 4 symptoms
swollen hands and feet
changes in stool color or shape
|changes in stool color or shape
|unintentional weight loss
blood in stool
|blood in stool
|changes in stool that last longer than a month
bleeding from rectum
|bleeding from rectum
|a feeling that your bowels won’t completely empty
Exists a spectrum of colon cancer types?
The fact that there are various forms of colon cancer may surprise you. Different cell types can develop into cancer, and cells from various digestive tract locations may contribute to colon cancer.
Adenocarcinomas are the precursors of the most prevalent form of colon cancer. The cells in the colon or rectum that produce mucus are where adenocarcinomas develop. The majority of cases of colon cancer are adenocarcinomas, according to the ACS Trusted Source.
Colon cancers are less frequently brought on by other kinds of malignancies, like:
Sarcomas, which form in soft tissues like muscles in the colon; gastrointestinal stromal tumors, which can start out benign and later become malignant; lymphomas, which can form in lymph nodes or the colon; and carcinoids, which originate in hormone-producing cells within your intestines (They rarely occur in the colon; instead, they usually form in the digestive tract.)
Why does colon cancer occur?
The causes of colon cancer are still being investigated by researchers.
Genetic mutations can be inherited or acquired, and they can be the cause of cancer. Although they raise your risks, these mutations do not ensure that you will get colon cancer.
Certain mutations may lead to the accumulation of aberrant cells in the colon’s lining, which can result in polyps. These are benign, microscopic growths. However, polyps can develop into cancer if left untreated. One preventative step might be to surgically remove these growths.
What are the colon cancer risk factors?
The likelihood of getting colon cancer might be raised by a few risk factors. Even though having one of these risk factors increases your chance of developing colon cancer, it does not guarantee it.
Risk variables that are unchangeable
You cannot alter certain factors that raise your risk of colon cancer. For example, your risk of colon cancer may be affected by your age, ethnicity, and family medical history.
Risk variables outside of your control include:
Being more than 50
a family history of colorectal cancer; a history of colon polyps; a history of bowel disorders; the presence of specific genetic syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
Risk elements that you can stay away from
There are other preventable risk factors. This implies that you can alter them to lower your chance of getting colon cancer. Among the preventable risk factors are:
Being obese or overweight
having type 2 diabetes, smoking, binge drinking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and eating a diet heavy in processed meats
How is the diagnosis of colon cancer made?
The best chance of recovering from colon cancer is an early diagnosis. Colon cancer is frequently discovered during routine screenings because it frequently exhibits no symptoms in its early stages.
Given the number of younger patients receiving colon cancer diagnoses, the US Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) and the ACS Trusted Source now advise colon cancer screening beginning at age 45.
Beginning around age forty, the American College of Gastroenterology advises individuals to begin screening for colon cancer.
First, your physician will inquire about your health and family history. They will also do a physical examination. To find out if you have lumps or polyps, they could examine your colon or apply pressure to your abdomen.
Testing of the faeces
Fecal testing once a year is advised by the ACS Trusted Source. Tests for concealed blood in the stool are performed on the stool. The faecal immunochemical test and the guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) are the two primary varieties (FIT).
Fecal occult blood test based on guaiac (gFOBT)
A plant-based material called guaiac is applied to a specific card before your stool sample is placed on it. Should there be any blood in your stool, the color of the card will change.
Prior to this test, you will need to abstain from a few specific foods and medications, including red meat and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They could tamper with the outcomes of your exam.
Fecal immunochemical examination (FIT)
Hemoglobin is a blood protein that the FIT finds. It is thought to be more accurate than the test based on the Guaiac.
This is due to the FIT’s low propensity to identify upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage (a type of bleeding that is rarely caused by colorectal cancer). Additionally, neither food nor medication will alter the test’s results.
Exams conducted at home
Your doctor will probably provide you test kits to use at home as these tests require numerous stool samples.
A stool sample must frequently be sent to a lab for analysis in order to use these kits. You should be able to get your test results online in five business days. You will then be given the opportunity to discuss your test results with a member of the medical staff.
The stool sample does not need to be submitted to a lab in order to acquire the Second Generation FIT, which is also available online. Results of the test are available in five minutes. This test is precise, approved by the FDA, and capable of identifying other illnesses including colitis. You can’t, however, speak with a medical staff about your concerns over your results.
Blood tests could be performed by your doctor to help determine the exact cause of your symptoms. Complete blood counts and liver function tests are useful in ruling out other illnesses and conditions.
Your doctor can check for anomalies in your sigmoid colon, the last portion of your colon, with a minimally invasive sigmoidoscopy procedure. Flexible sigmoidoscopy, another name for the operation, uses a flexible tube with a light on it.
The USPSTF advises a yearly FIT test in addition to a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or ten years.
Every five years, a flexible sigmoidoscopy is advised by the ACS Trusted Source.
During a colonoscopy, a long tube with a tiny camera attached is used. Your doctor can view within your colon and rectum during this operation to look for anything out of the ordinary. It is typically carried out if results from less intrusive screening tests suggest that you may have colon cancer.
Your doctor may also remove tissue from suspicious spots during a colonoscopy. After that, a lab can get these tissue samples for examination.
Sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies are the most effective diagnostic procedures now in use for identifying benign growths that have the potential to progress to colon cancer.
Every ten years, the ACS Trusted Source and the USPSTF advise having a colonoscopy.
Your physician might prescribe an X-ray that uses a barium-containing contrast solution.
Using a barium enema, your doctor sends this liquid into your intestines. The colon’s lining is coated by the barium solution after it is in place. This contributes to the X-ray images’ improved quality.
A CT scan gives your doctor a clear picture of your colon. Virtual colonoscopies are colloquial terms for CT scans used to diagnose colon cancer.
What options are there for treating colon cancer?
Many factors influence how colon cancer is treated. Based on your overall health and the stage of your colon cancer, a doctor will decide on the best course of therapy for you.
It is frequently possible for your surgeon to surgically remove malignant polyps when the disease is still in its early stages. You should have a very good prognosis if the polyp hasn’t adhered to the colon wall.
It could be necessary for your surgeon to remove some colon or rectum tissue along with the surrounding lymph nodes. if the walls of your colon have been affected by your malignancy. Reattaching the colon’s healthy part to the rectum may be possible with the help of your surgeon. Should that not be feasible, a colostomy could be done. To remove waste, this entails making an incision in the abdominal wall. Colostomies can be either permanent or temporary.
Drugs are used in chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often administered to patients with colon cancer following surgery in order to eradicate any remaining malignant cells. Tumor growth is also controlled by chemotherapy.
Among the chemotherapy medications used to treat colon cancer are:
- capecitabine (Xeloda)
- oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
Chemotherapy frequently has adverse effects that require extra medication to manage.
Radiation targets and eliminates malignant cells both before and after surgery using a strong energy beam like to that used in X-rays. Chemotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with radiation therapy.
Immunotherapies and targeted treatments might also be suggested. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following medications for the treatment of colon cancer:
- panitumumab (Vectibix)
- ramucirumab (Cyramza)
- ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap)
- bevacizumab (Avastin)
- regorafenib (Stivarga)
- pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
- Opdivo (nivolumab)
- ipilimumab (Yervoy)
They are capable of treating metastatic, or late-stage, colon cancer, which has spread to other body areas and is resistant to conventional treatment.
What is the prognosis for those who have colon cancer?
Receiving a dire diagnosis, such as colon cancer, can be unsettling and concerning. Thankfully, colon cancer is curable, particularly with early detection. As a matter of fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that the 5-year survival rate for colon cancer patients who receive a diagnosis prior to the disease’s metastasis is 91%Trusted Source. These survival rates are also predicated on data collected between 2010 and 2016. In recent years, new cancer treatments have resulted in increasingly better outcomes.
But in recent years, there has also been an increase in the number of younger instances of colon cancer. As to the ACS Trusted Source, there was a decrease in colon cancer fatalities among older adults between 2008 and 2017, however there was an increase in mortality among individuals below 50 years of age.
Colon cancer stage at diagnosis
Stage 0 and Stage 1
Stage 2 and Stage 3
Is it possible to prevent colon cancer?
Age and family history are two risk factors for colon cancer that cannot be avoided.
On the other hand, there are lifestyle variables that can increase the risk of colon cancer, and altering them could help reduce your overall risk of getting the disease.
Right now, you can lower your risk by:
- Reducing the quantity of red meat you consume
- Steer clear of processed meats like deli meats and hot dogs.
- consuming more meals made with plants
- Lowering the fat in food
- If your doctor advises it, losing weight with regular exercise
- Giving up smoking
- Cutting back on alcohol use
- lowering the tension
- Controlling diabetes that already exists
One more precautionary step? after you turn 45, having a colonoscopy or other cancer screening. The prognosis improves with earlier detection of the cancer.
How I knew I had colon cancer
To sum up, early detection and treatment of colon cancer depend on the ability to recognize its symptoms. Your health results can be greatly impacted by listening to your body’s messages and acting quickly to seek medical assistance, whether if they are mild symptoms or more obvious indicators. We empower ourselves and others to prioritize preventive healthcare and screening by sharing personal stories and increasing awareness, which eventually leads to better outcomes in the battle against colon cancer.
So, this is how the topic “How I knew I had colon cancer” has been addressed.
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Frequently asked questions
How I knew I had colon cancer
How do you know if your colon is healthy?
Although it is impossible to know for sure, frequent, easily passed, soft yet firm, snake-like bowel motions are a good indicator of colon health. Having a bowel movement every day is not required. It matters more how well each bowel movement is than how often they occur.
How did you find out you had colon cancer?
According to Lenhart, people with colon cancer report experiencing symptoms such diarrhea or constipation, nausea, bowel blockage, gastrointestinal bleeding, and weight loss. According to her, polyps and early-stage cancer frequently have no symptoms. Being able to recognize things early is the key. Not every patient will experience gastrointestinal problems.
How long can colon cancer go unnoticed?
Usually beginning as a benign polyp that later turns malignant, colon cancer grows slowly. For many years, this process might go on without showing any symptoms. It could take years for colon cancer to be discovered once it has started to spread.
What is the first hint of colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer symptoms in both men and women include: a prolonged alteration in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or narrowing of the stool. an urge to go to the bathroom that does not go away after you do so. Bright red blood leaking from the rectal area.
How can I test my colon at home?
Options for at-home screening
FIT: The faecal immunochemical test, or FIT, is 79 percent accurate in identifying colon cancer. It works by using antibodies to find blood in the stool.
Cologuard: Although more expensive than FIT, Cologuard has a 92% accuracy rate in identifying colorectal cancer.
Where is colon cancer felt?
Colon cancer often presents with no symptoms. The following may be signs of colon cancer, if present: lower abdominal discomfort and soreness. Stool containing blood.