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A Guide to Colon Cancer – Symptoms and Treatment - by Dr. Adarsh Chaudhry, Chairman, MBBS, MS, FRCS

Dr. Adarsh Chaudhry is a Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgeon with over 35 years of experience and the Chairman of GI Surgery, GI Oncology, and Bariatric Surgery, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Medanta, Gurugram. Dr. Adarsh Chaudhry is credited for performing the highest number of Whipple surgeries in India and for pioneering the first department of Surgical Gastroenterology in India. His areas of specialization include advanced upper and lower GI oncosurgery, surgery for pancreatic cancer and benign diseases, hepatobiliary cancer and biliary stricture, and bariatric and minimally invasive surgery.

Dr. Adarsh Chaudhry completed his MBBS from H.P. Medical College, Himachal Pradesh in 1978, MS from PGIMER, Chandigarh, in 1981, and FRCS (Edinburgh), the UK in 2004. Before Medanta, he was Head of the Department and Professor at Gobind Ballabh Pant Hospital, New Delhi, and Senior Consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. Dr. Adarsh Chaudhry is a member of prestigious organizations and has won highly prestigious awards like the Samaj Ratan Award, Vigyan Manch, Vocational Achievement Award, and many more for his contribution to the field of G.I. Surgery, New Delhi.

 

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is cancer that originates in the large intestine, the colon, or in the rectum which is the last part of the digestive tract. Colon cancers begin as small benign growths known as polyps along the lining of the large intestine. Some of the cells inside these polyps can become malignant and develop into cancer. 

 

Risk Factors for Colon Cancers

In the last decade, the cases of colon cancer and subsequent fatalities have gone up significantly worldwide. Risk factors are:

  • Obesity

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

  • High Fat Diet consisting of processed meats

  • Low consumption of fruits and vegetables

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol

  • Stress

  • Genetic Factors

  • Age over 45

 

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer starts with polyps which could be very small and may not cause discomfort or symptoms. Therefore, early symptoms of colon cancer are fleeting at most and flare up only when the polyps have become quite large in size and structure. Symptoms may be:

  • Blood in the stools 

  • Black stools or dark-colored stools

  • Abdominal pain or cramps or discomfort

  • Changes in bowel movement frequency

  • Diarrhea or constipation that lasts for weeks

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Weight loss 

  • Anemia

 

Screening for Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is preventable. Early screening for polyps and their removal reduces the risk of the development of colon cancer. After the age of 45, screening for colon cancers is highly recommended, especially for those with a family history of the disease.

  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope – a lighted thin tube is inserted to examine the rectum and colon for polyps and cancer. This test is conducted under deep sedation or general anesthesia.

  • Colon Capsule Endoscopy: This is a painless test to check for abnormalities in the digestive tract. However, this test involves bowel preparation as a capsule with the camera is swallowed. As the capsule travels through the digestive tract, it sends images to a belt worn by the patient wirelessly. It is passed out normally through the rectum.

  • Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscope – a thin tube with a light and camera, is inserted through the rectum to look for abnormalities in the lower part of the colon and the rectum. Tissue samples can be taken during sigmoidoscopy for biopsy. Sigmoidoscopy is a less invasive and safer test than colonoscopy.

  • Stool Test: This tests for the presence of blood in the stools such as FOBT (occult blood test), FIT (immunochemical) or Stool DNA Test.

 

Treatment for Colon Cancer

The treatment for colon cancer includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy or a combination of all three. If the disease is caught in its early stages, surgical removal of the polyps is a common treatment. If the cancer was localized, radiation, or chemotherapy may not be needed post-surgery.

For late-stage colon cancer, radiation, and chemotherapy may follow surgery. In case cancer has metastasized to other organs, surgery may be ruled out completely with only radiation or chemotherapy as treatment options.

 

Prevention of Colon Cancer

As per recent research, colon cancer is linked to lifestyle preferences and habits. 

  • Healthy Food Habits: Changing to a high fiber diet consisting of fruits and vegetable, avoiding processed meats and high-fat foods reduces the risk of colon cancer

  • Regular exercise or walking for 40 mins a day or exercising for 45 mins at least three times a week.

  • No Smoking – Smoking increases the risks of all cancers, including colon cancer manifold.

  • Moderate alcohol consumption

 

Conclusion

Cancers today are a painful reality of life. Making positive lifestyle changes and early screening for colon cancers reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.

Author Name
Neha Jaswal

Published Date
: 11-Jun-2021

Neha Jaswal is a researcher and writer at Vaidam Health. Being a fitness freak, she loves to pen down about health and fitness. 
A writer by day and a reader by night, she likes to expand her pensive thoughts health, travel strategies.

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