WHAT IS IT
Colorectal cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon and / or rectum. Most colorectal cancers begin as a growth in the inner lining of the colon or rectum, which is called a polyp. Some types of polyps can become cancer over time (usually many years), but not all polyps turn into cancer.
Colorectal tumors can originate in each of the three layers of the colon: mucosa, muscle and serosa.
This type of cancer is one of the most common in the world and also the easiest to diagnose. In addition, the cure rates are high if it is detected early and takes a long time to develop. If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer after working as a US Department of Energy (DOE) employee, contractor, or subcontractor, you may qualify for eeoicpa claims to get free home healthcare from our professionals at United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care.
Colon cancer can grow in three ways:
- Local growth: In this case the tumor invades deeply all the layers of the wall of the digestive tract. First, the malignant tumor grows from the mucosa, expands through the serosa and reaches the muscle layers.
- Lymphatic spread: When the tumor goes deeper into the wall of the intestine it can reach other organs using the network of lymphatic vessels that allow access to multiple ganglionic regions. One of the characteristics of this diffusion is that it is carried out in an orderly manner, reaching first the nearby ganglia until reaching the furthest ones.
- Hematogenous spread: Here the tumor is serving the bloodstream to spread cancer cells to the liver, lungs, bones and brain, mainly.
The main risk factors related to this disease are the following:
- Age: Most cases of colon cancer are found in people between 65 and 75 years and people between 50 and 65 are considered intermediate risk. The cases that are diagnosed before the 35-40 years are usually due to the fact that the patient has a genetic predisposition to suffer from this pathology.
- Diet: Colon cancer seems to be associated with diets rich in fats and poor in fiber . In this sense, numerous investigations are currently being carried out.
- Inheritance: Colon cancer plays an important role in genetics, since there is a possibility that it can be transmitted hereditarily and predispose the person to suffer from the disease. However, this can be detected and allow cancer to be treated early.
- Medical history: It has been shown that those who have a greater predisposition to suffer from this disease are people who have or have had polyps (benign growth) of the colon or rectum, ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), breast cancer, uterus or ovaries.
- First or second degree relatives who have also had colon cancer.
- Lifestyle: There are certain factors that depend on lifestyle and that predispose to the onset of colon cancer, such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.
- In people who suffer from some type of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, increases the risk of suffering from the disease.
Colorectal cancer has a long evolution and its symptoms may vary depending on the location of the tumor in the large intestine. The most frequent discomforts appear in the advanced stage of the disease. However, these symptoms are not exclusive of colon cancer and can occur in other pathologies such as hemorrhoids or certain digestive disorders. Specialists recommend going to the doctor as soon as they appear to facilitate the diagnosis is made properly. The most common are:
Changes in the intestinal rhythm
Patients who have colon cancer can, in some cases, have diarrhea and, in others, constipation. The second possibility is common in those people who previously had a normal intestinal rhythm. However, the most frequent is that the patient suffers periods of constipation combined with periods in which he suffers from diarrhea.
Blood in the stool
The most frequent symptom of this malignant tumor is that the patient has blood in the stool. The color of the blood can be red or black. The presence of red blood occurs mainly when the person presents tumors of the distal part of the colon and rectum. In the case of black blood, this color appears because the blood is digested and proceeds from sections closer to the colon, giving rise to black beams known as manes. If this symptom is not diagnosed early and the patient does not receive the appropriate treatment, it can be aggravated and lead to the appearance of anemia. In these cases, the patient may suffer dizziness, fatigue or have the sensation of lack of air, among other symptoms.
On the other hand, the patient can detect that their stools change in size and are narrower. This occurs because the intestine is narrowing.
If the tumors are located in the distal part of the colon, the patient may also have the feeling that the deposition is not complete and that the evacuation is incomplete.
Abdominal pain or discomfort
The discomfort and abdominal pain are usually very common. This is due to the fact that the tumor partly obstructs the intestinal tube and a pain and a situation similar to that of colic occurs. In some cases, the closure of the tube can be completed and an intestinal obstruction occurs, in these situations it is necessary that the patient receives urgent surgical medical attention.
Loss of weight without apparent cause, loss of appetite and constant tiredness
Like other diseases related to the stomach, colon cancer, especially when it is in an advanced state presents these symptoms.