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Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH

Surgical Oncologist

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Symptoms of Stage 1 Colon Cancer

symptoms of colon cancer

Cancer that begins in the colon sometimes referred to as the lower region of the digestive system or the second half of the digestive tract, is referred to as colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer.

The colon ends in the rectum. The rectum acts and reservoir of stools and opens to the exterior via the anal canal.

When colon cancer is in stage I, it means cancer has not spread beyond the lining of the colon

It means it has not broken through the colon wall into the abdominal cavity and has not progressed to any of the nearby organs or lymph nodes in the area. Stage I colon cancer is an early stage of colon cancer.

Symptoms

risk factors of colon cancer

The following is a list of some of the early warning signs and symptoms associated with colon cancer:

  • The presence of blood in faeces, which may be black in hue or red in colour.
  • Alterations in bowel habits, which might include either constipation or diarrhoea
  • Loss of weight that isn’t planned or can’t be explained.
  • A persistent requirement for a bowel movement is accompanied by the sensation that the intestine is not entirely empty.
  • Pale skin

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.

Is 1st stage colon cancer curable?

Stage 1 colon cancer has an excellent chance of cure. The 5-year survival rate for stage 1 colon cancer is more than 90%. 

The success of treatment depends on several factors i.e. aggressiveness of the tumour, patients’ overall health and treatment compliance. Based on these factors the results may vary.  

Also watch, What is Colostomy for more information

How long can colon cancer go unnoticed?

There are wide varieties of cancer, some of which are simpler to identify than others. For instance, it is feasible to establish a preliminary diagnosis of some types of skin cancer just by visually viewing the afflicted region; nevertheless, a biopsy is still necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Most of colonic cancers start off as polyps which finally turn malignant. It is estimated that it takes around 10-15 years for certain polyps to turn cancerous and most of the time these polyps are asymptomatic. Because of this long window period available there is ample opportunity to identify and treat these polyps before they turn malignant.

Majority of the early-stage colon cancers are without symptoms. By the time symptoms develop cancer may be at a more advanced stage. For this simple reason, many countries have started screening program to detect these cancers early. 

If you have lower bowel complaints that are not subsiding within two week time you should seek medical attention as these could be warning signs of colorectal cancer. 

People who are identified as high-risk candidates should undergo colonoscopy at regular intervals.

Treatment of stage 1 colon cancer

stage 1 colon cancer is confined to the colonic wall without any spread to the surrounding nodes and organs. 

The colonic wall involvement is of two categories in stage 1,

  • T1 : When the tumour has spread to the submucosa
  • T2 : When the tumour has spread to the muscle layer of the colonic wall. 

Some T1 tumours are candidates for endoscopic treatment. Several tumour related factors are evaluated before endoscopic treatment. Only if the tumour characters of a T1 cancer are favourable, an endoscopic treatment is suggested.

In endoscopic treatment the entire tumour is removed with the help of an endoscope which is similar to undergoing colonoscopy, however, it may take a longer time. Expertise is needed to perform this procedure.

The majority of the stage 1 tumours need surgical removal for successful treatment. In surgery, the affected part of the colon is removed with adequate normal colon proximally and distally along with the lymph nodes that drain the affected area. This procedure is called colectomy. 

Depending on the portion affected, the surgery could be a 

  1. Right colectomy
  2. Left colectomy
  3. Transverse colectomy
  4. extended right colectomy 

These surgeries can be performed by traditional Open surgery or Laparoscopic /Robotic surgery by an expert.

Survivorship of stage 1 colon cancer

A five-year survival rate of 64% is expected for those diagnosed with colon cancer. This is the survival rate taken as a whole.

People who get a diagnosis of their ailment while it is still in its early stages have a survival percentage estimated to be 91% higher than average.

Conclusion

The topic of how long someone may have cancer without being aware of it does not have a straightforward answer. Before some cancers are diagnosed, the disease may have already been present for a time ranging from a few months to many years. 

As a result of the slow growth rate of some tumours, medical professionals have a more significant opportunity to effectively treat the condition, even though these tumours often go untreated. Some of them are more aggressive than others, which makes it more challenging to find a treatment for them.

Keep up with the screening schedule your doctor has given you for cancer, and if you see any troubling signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can. This will increase the probability of any possible tumours being recognized at an earlier stage in their development.

In addition, the earlier a patient’s cancer is diagnosed, and treatment started, the better their chances of a favourable prognosis after the disease has been diagnosed.

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