Written by Samantha Brown
Cancer has its own share of victims and within the past few decades, we have all witnessed the slow steady rise in the number of people who died from cancer. In 2007, around 7.6 million people died from cancer according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer may occur at anyone and at any age. Famous people who had colon cancer includes Audrey Hepburn, Charles Schulz, Pope John Paul II, Elizabeth Montgomery, Ronald Regan.
Cancer is a disease that involves abnormal cell growth, invasion to nearby tissues and other parts of the body. Cancer is more commonly associated with people, although there are cases wherein animals have cancer. Many know colon cancer as large bowel cancer or colorectal cancer.
Before symptoms appear, the colon cancer has already existed for quite sometime. Patients feel symptoms of colon cancer but they just disregard it thinking that its something else that’s less deadly. Sometimes, it can be too late. You should know more about the symptoms of colon cancer because it ranks in second as the leading cause of cancer related deaths.
According to Webmd, there are many symptoms of colon cancer . These symptoms vary depending on what part of the body the cancer is growing. When one has colon cancer the areas affected could include the colon, appendix and the rectum. Oftentimes, people suffering from colon cancer have pale skin and are easily fatigued. Chronic bleeding causes anemia. If the cancer is growing in the right ascending colon, signs and symptoms may come only later. The doctor can detect it by feeling the abdominal wall if the tumor has enlarged.
If the cancer is growing at the left colon, one will feel an alternate between constipation and bowel movements. Cancer patients also complain about the feeling of incomplete defecation. The stool color is not the same as before as sometimes there is a bloody stool and the size is narrower. Although, there are times that blood cannot be seen with the naked eye and it could only be detected in laboratories.
If the cancer is growing in the rectal area, patients will be bleeding during bowel movement. A bloody stool and bleeding rectum are one of the signs that people should look out for. If you have this, do not immediately disregard those as hemorrhoids because it could already be colon cancer! Bowel movements will be painful and even sitting can be painful. This usually occurs when the cancer has grown and moved on to outside the rectum.
Other things to look for include nausea or vomiting, abdominal distension. This means that your belly seems to be bigger and you didn’t gain any weight. In fact, many colon cancer patients lose weight for no reason at all. Colon cancer symptoms include a change in appetite.
Some people may feel pain when they have colon cancer, although this is not common in colon cancer. This happens because there is a tear in the bowel once the bowel is perforated, the contents leak to the pelvis which will cause inflammation. This then leads to infection. Treatment must be sought.
When you begin to notice any of these symptoms of colon cancer, you should immediately consult a doctor because if left untreated, it could spread through healthy tissues in the body and it will spread to other organs of the body. Eventually, it will cause death if it is not treated. Symptoms of colon cancer are not enough to determine if you really do have colon cancer. So, physicians perform procedures to determine the causes of the symptoms. Once they find out the cause, they will immediately know what to do and take the proper necessary steps to make you healthy again.
A doctor may perform a digital rectal exam, this means that a gloved finger will be inserted into the anus to determine if the bleeding is from your rectum. Another procedure is the colonoscopy which is done by a gastroenterologist. A flexible plastic tube with a tiny camera will be inserted to your anus and it will take videos of your colon to help doctors determine if you have colon cancer and if you have that, on what part it is growing. A colonoscopy is more uncomfortable as compared to the digital rectal exam. But you should bear in mind that this is for your own good.
Some physicians do an x-ray with barium enema. Once again, the liquid ends up in your body through the anus. Upon x-ray, any abnormality in the colon can be seen. Some patients undergo a CT scan to see how much the cancer has spread. Doctors and require the patient to undergo several other tests to determine colon cancer.
If you do have colon cancer, your situation is not completely hopeless, there are people who survive colon cancer through surgery. Lynn Faulds Wood is a good example of a colon cancer survivor. She is now the founder of several charities that aim to help colon cancer patients.