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Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH

Surgical Oncologist

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Colon Blogs |  23 May 2022, monday

Is Colon Cancer Curable if Caught Early?

Colon cancer is a tumour that develops in the colon or large intestine and spreads throughout the body.

The large intestine is a long tube-like organ located at the end of the digestive system. Having passed through the stomach and small intestine, food is next transported to the colon, responsible for absorption of water and electrolytes and remaining nutrients from the food you consume.

The remaining solid waste is subsequently pushed towards the rectum, where it may be evacuated from the body. Colon cancer is more common in older people, although it may strike anybody.

In India, it is noticed that the median age of colorectal cancer is 47 years which is 10years earlier than western population. It generally starts as polyp, which are tiny, noncancerous (benign) clusters of cells that grow on the colon’s interior.

It appears like a bleb or mushroom-like growth on the inner lining of the colon. Certain polyps may progress to the point where they become malignancies in the future.

Small polyps may cause few or no symptoms.So to catch them early, doctors prescribe screening colonoscopy to detect and remove polyps before they develop into cancer and so assist in avoiding colon cancer. Such screening tests are prescribed for individuals who have a high risk of colon and rectal cancer.

If colon cancer occurs, various therapies, including surgery, radiation and medical treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, are offered based on the stage of the cancer.

Is Colon Cancer Curable if Caught Early

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Early signs and symptoms:

In early stages colon cancer may not produce any symptoms. There is generally no correlation between the magnitude of symptoms and stage of the disease. Even in late stages the cancer may not give rise to any symptoms.

signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or change in the consistency of stools.
  • The sensation of not being able to empty one’s bowels following a bowel movement.
  • Pain, cramping or bloating in the abdomen
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Anaemia due to blood lost in stools in small quantities
  • Black colored stools
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Fatigue and lack of strength
  • Unexplained reduction in weight

Risk factors for Colon Cancer

  1. Genetic conditions – FAP, Peutz Jegher s syndrome, Lynch syndrome.
  2. Presence of colonic polyps
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease
  4. Family history of polyps of colon cancer
  5. Obesity
  6. Type 2 diabetes
  7. Diet high in red meat and low in fibre and trace elements
  8. Alcohol consumption
  9. Smoking
  10. Sedentary lifestyle

Is colon cancer curable if caught early?

Yes. When it comes to colon cancer or colorectal cancer, the good news is that it is one of the most preventative and treatable cancers. If everyone qualified for a colonoscopy had one, it is estimated that up to 85 percent of colorectal malignancies may be avoided or treated effectively.

How to catch colon cancer early?

There are two ways to do this.

One is to pay attention to your health and seek medical advice at the earliest if you develop any worrisome symptoms ( which are discussed above). You must also try to reduce your risk of colon cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle by being more active and avoiding unhealthy habits ( smoking , alcohol, red meat ).

Second method is to undergo screening for colon cancer.

Colonoscopy is the best diagnostic tool in both the scenarios.

Who should undergo screening for colon cancer ?

  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • CT colonography
  • Fecal DNA test
  • Fecal immunohistochemical test

Colonoscopy is the best test to detect polyps and early cancers of colon.

What tests are done for screening colon cancer :

Screening is a process where we do some tests on people who don’t have any specific complaints.

When it comes to colon cancer, guidelines advice screening colonoscopy

  • For all individuals , above the age 45-50 years
  • For people with a strong family history or personal history of colon polyps or cancer
  • For people with history of inflammorty bowel disease , inherited conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis, lynch syndrome etc.
  • For patients who have received radiation to the abdomen.

The timing and frequency of screening varies based on your risk of colon cancer.

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