Symptoms and Signs of Colon Cancer

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/12/2021

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:

There are four stages of colon cancer. Stage IV (metastatic) colon cancers have spread, or metastasized, to distant organs or lymph nodes far from the original tumor.

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:

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.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.