Colon Cancer 

 

 

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of your digestive tract. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.

 

Polyps may be small and produce few if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer

 

 

 

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool

  • Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as cramps, gas or pain

  • A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they'll likely vary, depending on cancer's size and location in your large intestine.

 

If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer, such as blood in your stool or an ongoing change in bowel habits, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening for colon cancer. Guidelines generally recommend that colon cancer screenings begin at age 50. Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier screening if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of the disease.

 

 

Causes

in most cases, it's not clear what causes colon cancer. Doctors know that colon cancer occurs when healthy cells in the colon develop errors in their genetic blueprint, the DNA.

Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But when a cell's DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, cells continue to divide — even when new cells aren't needed. As the cells accumulate, they form a tumor.

With time, the cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy normal tissue nearby. And cancerous cells can travel to other parts of the body to form deposits there (metastasis).

 

 In addition, Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colon cancer can be passed through families, but these inherited genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancers. Inherited gene mutations don't make cancer inevitable, but they can increase an individual's risk of cancer significantly.

 

 

 

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:

 

  • Older age: risk increases near the age of 50 and beyond.

  • Race: African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races.

  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can increase your risk of colon cancer.

  • A family history of colon cancer.

  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet. 

  • A sedentary lifestyle. 

  • Diabetes. 

  • Obesity. 

  • Smoking. .

  • Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol increases your risk of colon cancer.

 

People with an average risk of colon cancer can consider screening beginning at age 50. But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner.

 

 lifestyle changes to reduce your risk

You can take steps to reduce your risk of colon cancer by making changes in your everyday life. Take steps to:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

  • Quit Drinking Alcohol if you already do.

  • Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

 

Diverticular Disease 

Diverticular disease is a condition where small bulges or pockets form in the wall of the large intestine. when these bulges or pockets become inflamed or infected, this can lead to complications.

Symptoms: 

The most common symptom of diverticulitis is pain, which can be mild or severe, on the lower left-hand side of the abdomen.

Other symptoms may include:

Prevention

having a low-fibre diet increases your chances of developing diverticular disease. A high-fibre diet helps to prevent constipation and formation of diverticula. Exercising regularly and drinking enough water (up to 8 cups a day) are also recommended.

Treatment:

Colectomy 

Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tubelike organ at the end of your digestive tract. Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon such as Colon Cancer 

 

Unlike some other cancers where many treatment choices are available, surgery is the most common treatment for removing cancer from your bowel.

 

However, some people will also require chemotherapy and radiotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour and prevent progression of the disease.  If surgery is not an option, then chemotherapy and radiotherapy are offered to halt progression of the disease and to help control the symptoms.

Types of Colectomy 

  • Open colectomy. Open surgery involves making a longer incision in your abdomen to access your colon. Your surgeon uses surgical tools to free your colon from the surrounding tissue and cuts out either a portion of the colon or the entire colon.

  • Laparoscopic colectomy, also called minimally invasive colectomy, involves several small incisions in your abdomen. Your surgeon passes a tiny video camera through one incision and special surgical tools through the other incisions. The surgeon watches a video screen in the operating room as the tools are used to free the colon from the surrounding tissue. The colon is then brought out through a small incision in your abdomen. This allows the surgeon to operate on the colon outside of your body. Once repairs are made to the colon, the surgeon reinserts the colon through the incision.

Sources:

Risks

Colectomy carries a risk of serious complications. Your risk of complications is based on your general health, the type of colectomy you undergo and the approach your surgeon uses to perform the operation.

In general, complications of colectomy can include:

  • Bleeding

  • Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism)

  • Infection

  • Injury to organs near your colon, such as the bladder and small intestines

  • Tears in the sutures that reconnect the remaining parts of your digestive system

© 2019 by Thair Mb chB General Surgeon