Colon Cancer & How A Colonoscopy Saves

January 13, 2022

Colorectal cancer or colon cancer can begin within the large intestine. All organ systems, including lymphatic and vascular structures, can be involved with this often metastasized form of cancer. This article explores colon cancer, how to catch it early, and other suggested preventatives.

Who Is At Risk For Colon Cancer

People at high risk for colon cancer include those with a family history of the disease, people over 50 years old, African Americans, and individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease. Colorectal cancer is also more common among alcohol consumers; individuals need to be careful about their intake of this product.

Colon cancers usually start as polyps in the large intestine before turning into tumors after several years. This is why patients must continue screening tests like colonoscopies even after being cleared of any abnormalities on the previous examination. Once a patient has reached the age of 65 years, many doctors recommend annual screenings because most cancers develop after that period.

Comorbidities associated with colon cancer include heart disease, osteoporosis, and lung cancer. Individuals who have one or more of these conditions should be checked by their doctor to ensure that they are in good health before further colon cancer treatment.

Prevention for colon cancer mainly involves careful screening procedures that can pick up any abnormalities before tumors start growing more prominent.

Colon Cancer Symptoms

Colorectal cancer is common among older adults, but it can affect people at any age. It is most prevalent among people over the age of 50 years. The primary goal for treating colon cancers is to prevent death from this disease. Symptoms of colon cancer include:


  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping
  • Blood in feces or stool
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits

Colon Cancer Preventive Measures 

Prevention for colon cancer mainly involves careful screening procedures that can pick up any abnormalities before tumors start growing more prominent. 


A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to evaluate if a person has polyps or other lesions on their large intestine. Because this disease usually does not produce symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, check- every five years for people over age 50 years. A colonoscopy can remove precancerous polyps so they will not turn into cancer. It also allows the doctor to biopsy any suspicious-looking areas of the large intestine or rectum, removed for further testing.


A colonoscopy is usually done at a hospital or surgery facility by an enema followed by sedation. The patient drinks something that cleanses their intestines and makes them relaxed before the procedure. Polyps are then pulled out using long, flexible instruments inserted through the anus into the rectum to view any potential abnormal lesions on the large intestine walls under magnification. Patients often need general anesthesia during parts of this procedure because it may be too uncomfortable without it.


Many researchers are working toward another preventative measure besides colonoscopy procedures to help eradicate this type of cancer.


Also, patients should avoid being obese and eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fiber to reduce their risk of developing colon cancer in the future. High-fiber foods usually include green beans, cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, and fruits like apples and bananas.


Stages Of Colon Cancer

Several stages of colon cancer exist for individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease. 


The first stage involves the patient having localized tumors that are either benign or malignant that cannot spread outside their primary site. 


If they are malignant, it is called Stage II colon cancer. Patients in this stage may require chemotherapy or radiation therapy to rid them of their cancer cells, depending on what type of tumor they had developed.


Stage III colon cancer means that patients have developed more severe tumors causing death if not treated. If cancer has already spread to nearby lymph nodes, weight loss, cramping, and bowel obstruction can occur, leading to more severe complications like diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weakness.


At Stage IV of colon cancer, patients have developed metastatic tumors. In these cases, the cancer is usually widespread throughout the body or has invaded other parts of the digestive system. They may also be starting to grow on other organs, which will cause symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, confusion, and memory problems. Patients with this type of colon cancer do not usually live longer than six months unless they opt for chemotherapy or radiation therapy.


Colon Cancer Treatments

Currently, surgery is the most common form of treatment used today because it quickly removes tumors causing the disease. If all the lymph nodes around the organ are free from cancer, most doctors can opt for a more conservative approach. Patients with positive lymph nodes may want to consider chemotherapy or radiation therapy to prolong their lives.


If a patient has already been diagnosed with colon cancer and the tumor is too large for them not to see a doctor right away, there are still ways for them to be treated. Chemotherapy is another way patients can receive chemicals that kill tumor cells on contact. This treatment takes as long as four months, depending on how fast the colon cancer grows.


Radiation therapy or radiotherapy involves using high-energy x-rays to destroy tumor cells in the body, usually after surgery or chemotherapy treatments have been done first. Radiation sessions usually only take about five minutes and can even be done at home.


Gastro Florida Can Help With Colon Cancer

Do you need more information about colon cancer or when to get a colonoscopy? Gastro Florida’s team of professionals is here to help. Set up an appointment for your colonoscopy today, servicing several areas throughout Florida.