Doctor's Notes on Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is cancer that arises in the lining cells of the large intestine (colon). The exact cause of colon cancer is not completely understood, but most colon cancers are believed to arise from polyps, or small outgrowths in the lining of the colon. Factors that increase a person's risk of developing colon cancer include:
- increasing age,
- African-American race,
- high fat intake,
- a family history of colorectal cancer and polyps,
- the presence of polyps in the large intestine, and
- having inflammatory bowel disease.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer depend on the extent to which the tumor has spread at the time of diagnosis (its stage). Some early cancers may not cause any symptoms. Other colon cancers may cause associated symptoms including:
- blood in the stool,
- narrow stools,
- diarrhea or constipation,
- weight loss,
- fatigue, and
- abdominal pain.
What Is the Treatment for Colon Cancer?
Treatment of colon cancer depends on the stage, or extent of spread, of the cancer:
- Early stage cancers are treated by surgical removal.
- In some cases of Stage 2 cancer, chemotherapy may be given after surgery if there are factors suggesting a higher risk of recurrence.
- More advanced cancers are treated by surgery followed by chemotherapy. There are a number of different chemotherapy regimens that may be used.
- Metastatic or stage 4 cancer is usually treated by a combination of chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer : Test Your Medical IQ QuizQuestion
What are risk factors for developing colon cancer?See Answer
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.