Since it takes up to 15 years for the polyps in the colon to turn malignant, screening at regular intervals is the best method for prevention of colon cancer.Cancer. In most cases, metastatic cancer responds to the same treatment to which the primary tumor responded.
Transformation of normal cells to malignant cells in the colon leads to Colon Cancer. The colon is the first part of the large intestine and is about 5 feet long. In most cases colon cancer appears as polyps in the colon which can be detected and removed during a routine colonoscopy. Since it takes up to 15 years for the polyps to turn malignant, screening at regular intervals is the best method for prevention of colon cancer.
COLON CANCER RISK FACTORS
- – The risk for colon cancer increases after the age of 50.
- – Having a family history of colon cancer or colorectal cancer increases one’s risk for the disease.
- – Having a personal history of colorectal cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and Inflammatory Bowel disease increases the risk
- – Having a personal history of polyps that are 1cm or larger in the colon
- – Being overweight
- – Smoking and alcohol abuse also increase the risk of colon cancer
- – Certain gene changes linked to familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer increases risk for colon cancer
SYMPTOMS OF COLON CANCER
In its early stages Colon Cancer does not show signs or symptoms. However, in some cases these following symptoms do occur:
- – Rectal bleeding
- – Blood in the stools
- – Change in bowel movements
- – Stools appear more dark than usual
- – Abdominal aches/ cramping/ bloating
- – Fatigue and overall weakness
- – Unintended loss of weight
Since most of these symptoms can even be the result of an infection, the possibility of cancer gets overlooked. However, if the symptoms persist despite medication, it is best to discuss with your healthcare provider on colon cancer screening, especially if you are aged 45 years or more.
WAYS TO PREVENT COLON CANCER:
- SCREENING. If you are at risk for colon cancer or show any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is advisable to get screened for the condition. There are many ways to screen for colon cancer.
- – FECAL OCCULT BLOOD TESTING checks for blood in the stools. It can be done once a year.
- – COLONOSCOPY examines the entire colon. It is done once in 3 years after the age of 45.
- – FLEXIBLE SIGMOIDOSCOPY examines the lower part of the colon. It can be done once every 5 years.
- – VIRTUAL COLONOSCOPY creates a precise 3D image of the inside of the colon for examination. It can be done once every 3 years along with colonoscopy if suspicious for cancer.
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Having an active lifestyle by exercising regularly can reduce one’s risk for colon cancer. 30 minutes of a moderate cardio activity every day will improve overall health and fitness.
- HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT. Being overweight increases one’s risk for several types of cancer. Consult with an expert on what your ideal body weight should be and slowly work towards achieving that weight. This must be achieved through regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- DIET. Reduce consumption of red meats and processed meats to improve overall health. Pick a diet that is packed with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- QUIT SMOKING. Studies have proven that smoking can cause up to 14 different types of cancers besides leading to heart disease and stroke. This is the single most vital lifestyle change one needs to make to lead a healthy life.
- QUIT DRINKING. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of colon cancer. Drink in moderation (one drink a day for women / 2 drinks a day for men) if you must. The best bet however is to quit altogether.
SENIOR CONSULTANT – RADIATION ONCOLOGY
MBBS, MD R.T,