The major portion occupying the large intestine is the colon in our body which performs a huge role in digestion helping our body absorb the essential nutrients and proteins from the blood and food. When this colon is affected by malignant tumors or cells that are cancerous in nature a condition called the colon cancer is formed. This tumor usually crowds the inner wall of the colon. A study revealed that one of the most common cancer patients belong to the colon group. Colon cancer is not the same as rectal cancer, which originates in the rectum. However, when both of these cancer types develop together, it is known as colorectal cancer.
In some cases of colon cancer, the malignant tumor spreads to different parts of the body, if not timely removed during colonoscopy. After the formation of malignant tumor, the cancerous cells in the colon travel to other parts of the body through blood and lymphatic system. The malignant cells then begin to grow in these places, destroying all the healthy tissues of the body. This is referred as is referred as ‘metastasis’ and is a very severe condition, which is even more difficult to treat.
In medical terminology, Colon cancer or any other form of cancer is a disease caused due to uncontrolled multiplication of cells that do not die. In our body, normal cells follow a cycle of growth, division and lastly death. However, colon cancer cells do not undergo pragmatic death and continue to grow and divide. It was found through various researches that colon cancer develops when the healthy cells present in the colon, develop some errors in their DNA. When any cell’s DNA gets corrupted, it becomes cancerous and continues to divide. Due to constant division, when the cells get cluttered, they develop into a tumor.
Colon Cancer Causes And Symptoms:
This article will educate you about the colon cancer symptoms and causes, that will help you aware for this cancer.
Causes Of Colon Cancer:
The exact causes of colon cancer is still not known, yet given below are top 10 potential risk factors associated with colon cancer.
1. Age :
Age is not a exactly a direct cause of colon cancer, however it is found that after crossing the age of 50, 25% of people develop polyps. These polyps can then turn to be cancerous. In most of the cases, colon cancer develops from these adenomatous polyps present in the colon and are also referred as ‘colon polyps’.
2. Diabetes :
Diabetes can turn to be one of main causes of developing colon cancer. According to the recent studies it was concluded that dependency on insulin contributes majorly to the growth of colon cancer. It was also found that more than 40% of people suffering from diabetes have higher risks of developing colon cancer, as compared to those who do not have diabetes.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) :
Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD is a medical condition that is characterised by Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Researchers have proved that a person with IBD is at higher risk of developing colon cancer. More specifically, if the person is infected with Inflammatory Bowel Disease for longer duration, his/her chances of developing colon cancer shoots up majorly.
4. Family Medical History :
Although it cannot be accurately stated that colon cancer is hereditary, yet in most of the cases it was found family medical history played a significant role. But this does not mean that people who do not any family history will never develop colon cancer. To what extent your family’s medical history puts you on a risk of colon cancer is dependent on the age and blood relation of the family member diagnosed for the same.
5. Diet :
Diet can be associated with a lot of health issues. A diet that is high in cholesterol and fat can turn to be a cause of colon cancer. Moreover, low-fiber diets can also elevate the chances of colon cancer; however the research is not much substantiated.
6. Gender and Genetics :
If you are male, your chances of developing colon cancer are comparatively high as compared to woman. Also genetics can also be attributed to the occurrence of colon cancer. Recent research conducted in this regard has revealed that nearly 25% of colon cancer cases have shown some form of genetic link.
7. Lack of Exercise :
Exercising is good for overall health of the body. Staying fit is the key to being healthy. Following some form of routine exercise gives a boost to the immune system and helps the body to fight any form of foreign infections. It has been found that sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the development of colon cancer.
8. Obesity :
Obesity has been found to be a cause of several medical ailments, including colon cancer. In medical terminology, obesity is condition when a person exceeds his/her recommended weight and becomes overweight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of colon cancer.
9. Smoking and Drinking :
It has been found that long-term cigarette smoking can even be attributed as causes of colon cancer. This is because, tobacco smoke from cigarette transfers carcinogens to the colon and also the use of tobacco tends to increase the size of polyps.
10. Environment :
Your environment can also play a major role in colon cancer development. The place where you live, your occupation and the kind of people around you can also influence the risk of colon cancer development.
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According to doctors, in most cases colon cancer starts small almost a lump look alike which is non cancerous and treatable. These clumps of cells, also known as adenomatous polyps gradually with time grows turn cancerous. However over this gradual growth, this is treatable so it is always better to be aware of the colon cancer symptoms. For a better knowledge 10 main symptoms of colon cancer are enlisted below.
Symptoms Of Colon Cancer:
1. Constipated :
Colon is also responsible for your bowel movements so the first symptom to a colon cancer would be constipation or problem in bowel movements. According to the recent studies, use of laxatives or constipation puts a person at higher risk of colon cancer. Generally the most common problem is constipation or the feeling of it. A change in the bowel movements or consistency or usual habit might also be a symptom. However these are common symptoms and should not be mistaken for common constipation. Prolonging it is also not a good option.
2. Diarrhoea :
Diarrhoea may seem like a common medical condition; however it could even turn out to be an early sign of colon cancer. If an individual is affected with diarrhoea for a period of more than 15 days, it could turn to be an early developing stage of colon cancer. With the growth of tumor, the bowel movements gets obstructed and it may lead to alternating diarrhoea or constipation due to seepage of liquid stool. During such conditions, the person might also experience nausea, vomiting, gastric discomfort and even abdominal pain. Also the tumor may cause irritation in the lining of the intestine. If you have been suffering with diarrhoea for more than few days, it is imperative to consult a good doctor as it causes dehydration, loss of nutrients or even be indicative of the developing cancer.
3. Bleeding :
Most commonly, piles is the cause of blood in the stool, which happens when the veins in the rectal region become weak and cause bleeding at the time of bowel movement. While piles work the same way, usually a colon cancer may result in rectal bleeding, in general or at the time of excretion. The bleeding caused during piles is generally red, whereas the presence of black or dark red blood in the stool can be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. It may not always be a painful process but keep a look out for blood in your stool and if someone is already suffering with this, the best way is to get a thorough check-up at earlier stages before this starts to get serious.
4. Lower Abdomen :
Yet another symptom to a colon cancer is a sharp lower abdominal pain at sudden moments. It is mainly caused due to the growth of the tumor in the digestive tract, rectum or colon. It does not have to be any specific posture that works up your sudden pain. The same thing goes with back muscle ache. However a bad back pain may even be the cause of a simple bad posture or muscle cramp so make sure you are not judging the wrong disease. If only this pain lasts longer than normal can you judge colon cancer.
5. Constant Urge for Bowel Movement :
A constant urge to clear bowel movements and yet after the strain no stool is passed, medically it is not a good sign. Variation in the pattern of bowel movements may turn out to be one of the early symptoms of colon cancer. Unclear bowel movements are caused when the tumor growth, blocks the movement of bowels, thereby causing hindrance to completely empty the bowels. If the problem of incomplete evacuation persists even after recurrent bowel movements, it must be consulted with a doctor. Early detection of colon cancer can prevent the diseases from becoming more severe.
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6. Weight Loss :
A common problem that often relates itself with faulty internal organs is the sudden weight loss where you almost look similar to an anorexic patient even without any trying. Unexpected weight loss is mostly indicative of advanced stages of colon cancer. Even though the concept of weight loss may sound alluring, this in fact might cause subsidiary problems such as low immunity to fight pathogens and of course the disease at hand.
7. Fatigue :
One of the predominant symptoms of colon cancer is weakness or fatigue. With the other subsidiary problems, a constant feeling of being tired over rules the body. The loss of breath after a small walk, feeling fatigue after a day at home might be a cue. Tumors or large polyps present in the colon may cause iron-deficiency anaemia, which in turn lowers the oxygen level in your blood. This mainly contributes to fatigue, and you might feel weak even after taking adequate rest.
8. Distension :
People always talk about beer guts which means a small portion of the belly, especially the abdomen area sticks out even without you putting on any actual weight. The same thing happens when the colon underneath our abdomen starts malfunctioning. This might be a sign of colon cancer and one should look out for this.
9. Pencil Stool :
Another early symptom accompanying all others will be change in the construction of stool, i.e., it will be narrower than before almost enough to coin the term pencil stool. This is because the tumor located in the left side blocks the passageway, which causes the stool to become narrow. Besides colon cancer, appearance of pencil stool could also turn out to be a symptom of anal cancer or diverticulitis. It is therefore best to consult a doctor without further delay.
10. Nausea :
There is always the case of nausea or constant barfing feeling that will accompany your abdominal pain and constipation. Even though nausea is a common mild discomfort this if stays for a prolonged period of time needs medical check up to make sure you are not a suspect of colon cancer.
If you ever come across any of these symptoms of colon cancer, do not feel hesitant to consult your doctor. Ask your doctor if you must undergo screening for colon cancer periodically. Normally colon cancer screening is recommended after the age of 50. The chances of colon cancer can easily be minimised by adopting some lifestyle changes.
Take a Look at These Tips That will Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer:
- Incorporate an exercise routine in your lifestyle. Normally 30-40 minutes of physical activity, five times in a week is good.
- Add plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet, along with whole grains.
- Stay away from use of tobacco products and limit drinking alcohol.
- Maintain an optimum body weight. If you are obese try to lose that extra weight gradually.
- Last but not the least, regular screening of colon cancer should be done periodically to completely eliminate the risk of developing colon cancer.
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