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Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer and carcinoma, is a type of illness that begins in the colon or rectum. They are part of the large intestine, which is located in the lower part of the digestive system.
Every year, millions of people around the world are diagnosed with colon cancer. However, it is among the diseases that cause the most deaths. It is one of the 5 most common cancer types in Turkey. It occurs more frequently after the age of 50.
Colon Cancer: Causes & Risk Factors
There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing colon cancer. Some of the most common are:
- Age: The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age.
- Family History: People with a family history of colon cancer or polyps (growths on the colon or rectum) have a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Diet: A diet high in red or processed meat and low in fruits and vegetables may increase a person’s risk of colorectal cancer.
- Lifestyle: People who smoke, have a sedentary lifestyle, or are overweight or obese are at higher risk.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): People with IBD, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, have a higher risk for this disease.
Colon Cancer: Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, colon cancer may not cause symptoms. As the illness grows, it can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Fatigue or weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
Colon Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment
If a person has symptoms of colon cancer or is at increased risk for the disease, a doctor may recommend screening tests to detect colon cancer in its early stages. Some common screening tests are;
- Colonoscopy: A test in which a doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the inside of the colon
- Fecal Occult Blood Test: A test that checks for blood in the stool
- Stool DNA Test: A test that checks for DNA changes in the stool that may indicate cancer.
Prevention of Colon Cancer
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. These include:
- Screened for Colorectal Cancer: Screening tests can detect colon cancer at an early stage when it is still most treatable.
- Eating a Healthy Diet: A diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in red or processed meats, can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Regular Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can reduce risk.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of this disease.
- Do Not Smoke: Smoking increases the risk of developing colon cancer.
It is important to know that colon cancer is a preventable and treatable disease if detected early. If you know the causes, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and prevention methods, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself from colorectal cancer.
Recovery From Colon Cancer
Recovery from colon cancer treatment can vary depending on the type of treatment and the individual. In any case, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for patients to get used to the treatment and its effects.
- Recovery From Surgery: If surgery is required to remove the cancerous tumor, the recovery time may vary depending on the extent of the surgery. For a simple polypectomy, where only one polyp is removed, the recovery period may be only a few days. However, for more extensive procedures such as a colectomy or low anterior resection, recovery can take several weeks to a couple of months. Common side effects of surgery may include pain, fatigue, and changes in bowel function.
- Recovery From Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is usually given as external beam radiation, where the tumor is irradiated from a device outside the body. Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, diarrhea, irritation of the rectum, and skin irritation. Recovery from radiation therapy usually takes several weeks to a few months.
- Recovery From Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is typically given as a series of treatments over several weeks or months. Side effects of chemotherapy may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and increased risk of infection. Recovery from chemotherapy depends on the individual and can take several weeks to months.
In general, it is important for patients to work closely with their healthcare provider to manage side effects and plan for recovery. Adherence to the treatment plan and guidelines, a healthy diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can all contribute to a better recovery.