Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the world. It can metastasize and spread to other body parts. Colorectal cancer is dangerous and can be life-threatening. But death rate from colorectal cancer has dropped in the recent years, thanks to advance screening techniques and better colorectal treatment options.
Colorectal cancer is also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer begins as an abnormal growth of cells in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. This abnormal growth is called a polyp.
Some types of polyps can change into cancer over the course of several years. But it does not mean that all polyps have the tendency to become cancerous. The chance of changing a polyp into colorectal cancer depends on the type of polyp that grows.
Colorectal cancer can affect men and women equally. However, studies have proven that men might develop it at a younger age.
There is no definite cause of colorectal cancer, but old age and certain lifestyle factors can increase colorectal cancer risk. Some of these colorectal cancer risk factors include the following:
A majority of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinoma. If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, there are 95 percent chances that it is an adenocarcinoma. But there are some other types of colorectal cancer such as carcinoid, gastrointestinal stromal, lymphomas, and sarcomas.
There are no early signs of colorectal cancer, but once it grows, the patients may experience the following colon cancer symptoms:
Before preparing a treatment plan, the doctor is likely to order a few tests. These may include the following:
These tests are used for diagnosis of colorectal cancer. With the help of these tests, the surgeon is able to identify the extent of cancer and accordingly prepare a treatment plan that will suit patient the most.
Colorectal cancer treatment is initiated as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. However, it is important to determine the stage of cancer before initiating colorectal cancer treatment. The stage of cancer is also determined with the help of tests mentioned above.
The following are the different stages of colorectal cancer:
After the determination of stage, the doctor chooses the best suitable treatment options for the patient. The treatment plan prepared is specific to every patient and is best suited to meet the individual needs. The treatment plan may include the following options.
Different types of surgery options can be used as per the identified stage of colorectal cancer. Surgery can be divided into two major segments: Early stage colorectal cancer surgery and advanced stage colorectal cancer surgery.
Early stage colorectal cancer surgery: This is a minimally-invasive form of surgery, which is typically recommended when the cancer is small and has not spread to other parts of the body.
Early stage colorectal cancer surgery includes the following procedures:
Advance stage colorectal cancer surgery: This is a more invasive surgical option, recommended when cancer has grown into or through your colon. It can be of the following types:
In chemotherapy treatment, an anti-cancer drug is used to destroy the cancerous cells. It is commonly used before surgery, in an attempt to shrink the tumour before its surgical removal. It can also be given to relieve symptoms of colon cancer, in case it has spread to other parts of the body.
A certain number of chemotherapy cycles are also repeated after the surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. This helps minimize the chances of cancer recurrence.
In this treatment, radiation beams such as X-ray or proton beam are used to kill cancer cells. It also prevents cancer cells from multiplying any further. This treatment is more commonly used for rectal cancer treatment before surgery to shrink the tumor. It can also be used after the surgery. Radiation therapy is the best treatment if cancer has penetrated through the wall of the rectum or travelled to nearby lymph nodes.
Targeted drug therapy is typically used for people with advanced colon cancer. It can be given alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Specific drugs help cancer cells commit suicide and strengthen the immune system. However, this treatment comes with limited benefits and risk of side effects.
Patients undergoing the surgery are required to stay in the hospital for at least two to three days after the surgery. You may expect yourself to be discharged from the hospital after regaining bowel function and the ability to eat without the support of IV. Pain is controlled with the help of medications and it may take another two to three weeks at home before you can switch back to your normal routine.
Patients undergoing surgery are required to stay in the hospital for at least two to three days after the surgery. You may expect yourself to be discharged from the hospital after regaining bowel function and the ability to eat without the support of an intravenous line. Pain is controlled with the help of medications and it may take another two to three weeks at home before you can switch back to your normal routine.
If you’ve had a surgery for the removal of bowel cancer, it may take a few weeks before you can return back to work. In the case of laparoscopic surgery, you can return to work in about two weeks’ time. In the case of open surgery, it may take around four to six weeks for you to return to work.
You must pay particular attention to eating the right food and to avoid dehydration after bowel cancer surgery. Include high protein foods in your diet and choose low-fibre foods if you have diarrhoea. Additionally, eat limited amounts of green vegetables and only eat peeled fruits.
Patients who undergo chemotherapy before or after the surgery may experience a few side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and pint pain. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to minimize the side effects and recover quickly. Take emergency medications prescribed by the doctor, if needed.
Q: Can colon cancer recur?
A: Colon cancer recurrence is a common problem and may lead to death.
Q: Can colon cancer be cured completely?
A: It is possible to cure colorectal cancer if it is restricted to just the bowel. Treatment becomes difficult if it has spread to other cells and tissues.
Q: How will I know if I am dehydrated?
A: Some of the signs of dehydration include muscle cramps, increased thirst, low urine output or dark urine, significant weight loss within 24 hours, weakness, dizziness, and hypotension.
Q: How frequently should colostomy bag be changed?
A: The colostomy pouch change should be conducted every three to five days.
Q: Is it possible to reverse colostomy?
A: It is possible to reverse colostomy but no all colostomies can be reversed.
Q: What is the average chemotherapy cost?
A: The average cost of chemotherapy may vary between $300 and $3000, depending on the type and quality of drugs used.
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