Cancer of the colon is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancer types, the symptoms of which can be manifested in different ways. Listed below are the most widely reported symptoms of the disease, which should never be overlooked. So, if you notice any of them, there is no time to wait. This does not necessarily mean that you have cancer, because the symptoms may be associated with other diseases. However, it is better to undergo a series of tests to find out whether you need medical help or not. Thus, the most common colon cancer symptoms include:
- Bleeding from the rectum and blood in the stool or on the underwear (by the way, many people mistakenly tend to associate these symptoms with hemorrhoids and lose precious time required to save their lives)
- Terry or black stool, which is observed on a regular basis (the thing is that blood in the stool may not be that obvious and if the tumor is located in the distant parts of the colon, the blood may be digested, thus causing the black color of the stool)
- Low hemoglobin levels in the blood, which is the sign of constant hidden bleeding in the organism
- Fatigue, loss of consciousness, recurrent dizziness, persistent weight loss
- Diarrhea, constipation or the feeling of insufficient bowel movement
- Bowel obstruction, which mostly develops, when the tumor is large enough not to allow proper colon functioning. These situations just cannot be left unnoticed, because the condition of a patient gets worse with every passing day. The symptoms of bowel obstruction include repeated bloating, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, enormously sticking belly (or parts of it), narrow or ribbon-like stool, change of the regular bowel movement process, the feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation etc.
Experts underline that the average duration of these symptoms lasts for about 2 weeks. This is the time needed to a person to understand that something bad is going on in the organism and seek medical help.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before diagnosing colon cancer, a doctor recommends a patient to undergo a series of analyses and medical tests. These include:
- Blood, urine and stool tests
- Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT)
- Digital or physical rectal exam
- Colonoscopy, which is an obligatory endoscopic test that is generally done with the use of sedative medications and shows, what is going on inside the colon and can identify the existence and exact location of the tumor, polyps or other problems
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is needed to examine the rectum and the lower parts of the colon
- Computer tomography colonography
- Anti-contrast barium enema followed by the X-ray procedure
If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer on time, you have to find out as much as you can about all the possible colon cancer treatment methods, which are the most effective and safe in your case. As of today, these treatments methods are as follows:
- Surgical intervention, which implies removing the affected part of the colon
- Chemotherapy, which follows the surgery and may help prevent the advanced development of the disease in case the tumor has affected the lymph nodes
- Radioactive treatment, which also follows the surgery and is especially effective in the treatment of patients suffering from rectal cancer. The procedure is not quite effective, when it comes to curing the patients with colon cancer.
- In cases of the colorectal type of the disease, doctors may decide to create a permanent or temporary colostomy. While the latter variant is a temporary solution, which is required to restore the functioning of the colon after the surgery, the permanent colostomy may be left for a lifetime, thus triggering many problems and stresses. The decision depends upon the type, location and stage of colon cancer you have, the treatment and the prognoses of oncologists.
Anyway, your doctor will make everything possible to help you get rid of the disease and resume your previous lifestyle. However, you will have to see your oncologist and undergo a series of tests and procedures on a regular basis to prevent the development of the new forms of the disease.
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