What is Colon Cancer? Symptoms and Treatment
Colon (Colorectal) Cancer
Also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer is a disease caused by polyps in the intestinal area. Every year, around 1 million people suffer from colon cancer. Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, is one of the most life-threatening types of cancer. It is necessary to have the necessary screening tests regularly to prevent colon cancer, which is more common in males. If there is a family history of colon cancer, applications such as sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and fecal occult blood test can be performed.
Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer
You can choose a diet rich in fibrous foods to prevent colon cancer. You can prevent colon cancer by choosing whole-grain foods, not overdoing red meat consumption, adopting an active lifestyle, and exercising. Among the top, five most common cancers in our country are colon cancer, which is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the lining of the intestine.
Age, gender, and other risk factors trigger the development of colon cancer. According to studies, one-third of people who develop colon cancer are over 55 years of age. This disease is equally common in males and females, and risk factors include excessive consumption of animal foods, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, smoking, a history of uterine cancer in women, a history of breast and ovarian cancer, advanced age, and a family history of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
There are certain symptoms of colon cancer. These symptoms include involuntary weight loss, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Cancer symptoms may also include factors such as blood coming from the anus after going to the toilet, blood mixed with feces, and thinning of the thickness of the stool. Anemia caused by iron deficiency, new-onset constipation, and changes in the consistency or odor of stool is also among the symptoms of colon cancer. Polyps are removed by colonoscopy to improve the patient’s quality of life and prolong life. For metastasized cancers, treatment is continued to prolong the person’s life.
One in every 20 people develops colon cancer, which can spread to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and other organs. Early detection of cancers of the digestive tract helps to completely get rid of the disease. A sedentary lifestyle, female cancers, and a family history of colorectal cancer are among the risk factors for colon cancer. Endoscopy examinations, radiological examinations, fecal occult blood examination, and laboratory tests are performed to diagnose colon cancer, which manifests itself with different factors such as vomiting, unexplained weight loss, painful defecation, difficulty in defecation, feeling that the intestines cannot empty sufficiently.
Diagnosis of Colon Cancer
Considered the gold standard in the detection of colon cancer, colonoscopy allows the large intestine to be examined with a device in the form of a thin medium. Thanks to today’s anesthesia and sedation applications, an extremely comfortable colonoscopy, is very important in diagnosing the disease. Lasting between 15 and 40 minutes, this procedure is one of the most important steps that the person will take to regain their health. It is possible to treat cancer surgically. However, the type of surgical treatment may vary depending on the patient’s liver complications, the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, and its location in the rectum. Surgical removal of the entire tumor is called resection. When the entire rectum is cut out, the lymph nodes are removed together with the intestine.
Stages of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is categorized into four different stages, and other treatment modalities such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be part of the treatment before and after surgery in the third and fourth stages. You can opt for polyp screening programs to prevent colon cancer. Screening tests, which increase the success rate of treatment, are among the important factors that can detect cancer development.
You can also prevent colon cancer by exercising and eating a healthy diet. Moderate activities such as cycling on flat terrain, brisk walking, etc. can be done with an appropriate exercise program. You should eat a diet rich in legumes, vegetables and fruits, and low-fat foods to reduce the risk of colon cancer. You should protect your health by undergoing regular health checks after the treatment process. Therefore, if you have symptoms of colon cancer, contact your doctor immediately.
Nutrition After Colon Cancer Surgery
This group of patients may sometimes require special nutritional support therapies after surgery.
In surgical patients, nutrition can be given intravenously (parenteral) or through the digestive system (enteral). Whenever possible, enteral nutrition is preferred. Such nutrition is efficient, inexpensive, has few side effects, and is appropriate for physiological systems. If the patient can take it by mouth, this support is provided through the mouth; if not, through tubes inserted through the nose into the intestine (nasojejunal) or through tubes inserted through the abdominal wall into the stomach (tube gastrostomy) or intestine (tube jejunostomy). Gastric tube feeding is used for patients who are unable to eat due to esophageal cancer or stomach cancer and have an obstructed digestive system. In these patients, tube feeding, which lasts for a few months, allows patients to undergo preoperative chemotherapy and radiotherapy without the need for intravenous nutrition. Parenteral nutrition is administered in patients who cannot or inadequately receive enteral nutrition. In this case, some or all of the nutrients are given intravenously. To deliver all the daily nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, trace elements, and water) required for a person intravenously, thin tubes called catheters are inserted into large veins under the collarbone or in the neck. If only part of the nutrients is needed, thin cannulas inserted through the arm veins are usually sufficient.
Surgical intensive care is a highly dynamic and demanding field of medical science that some surgeons, especially in western countries, prefer to do their upper specialization, where improvement or deterioration in patients can be experienced dramatically moment by moment and the responses to treatment applications are very fast. An adult human body is made up of 60% water. Every surgeon must be familiar with fluid-electrolyte and acid-base balance, which are topics that examine the body fluid balance of patients. In addition, surgical intensive care is a specialized hospital area where antibiotic prophylaxis and treatment, wound care and drain management, respiratory support and artificial machine breathing (mechanical ventilation), blood and blood products, nutrition, and the patient is kept under strict follow-up and monitoring to manage all these. Many patients undergoing major abdominal surgery and cancer surgery require care in a postoperative care unit that partially/completely accommodates these features for a while. Many patients can be admitted directly to the clinic after surgery. Surgeons’ familiarity with the methods of patient follow-up, care, and treatment in intensive care will be an advantage in the management of patients requiring this type of treatment.
When metastasis occurs in the liver, it is called liver metastasis, which refers to the spread of cancer to an organ different from the organ where it occurs. Liver metastasis occurs when cancer cells in the liver, allow the blood to filter, attach to the organ and grow. Since blood from the intestines first passes through the liver, liver metastasis is common in cancer that develops in this region. Metastasis is common in cancer cells from organs such as the small intestine, biliary tract, pancreas, stomach, and large intestine. Metastasis is also possible in lymphomas, lung cancer, and breast cancer. If metastases to the liver are widespread, they are relatively easy to diagnose. In laboratory tests, transaminases and alkaline phosphatase are elevated. Imaging methods are preferred for definitive diagnosis.
Detection of Liver Metastasis
Although knowing the focal point of cancer origin makes it easier to diagnose liver metastases, if the focal point of cancer origin is unknown, it is difficult to distinguish liver masses from primary liver cancer. A biopsy may be needed in such cases to make a definitive diagnosis. Liver metastasis treatment varies according to many factors such as spread to an organ other than the liver, the location of the metastases in the liver, and the extent of the event.
Since colorectal cancer is a common type of cancer, metastasis occurs in 1/3 of patients during the follow-up of the disease. Surgical removal of metastases prolongs the patient’s life expectancy and quality of life. Whether the disease is present outside the liver, whether metastases can be removed with a safe margin, and the distribution, location, and number of metastases in the liver also have an impact on whether surgical cancerous formations can be removed.
Surgical Removal of Metastasis
Having liver metastasis surgically removed does not mean that the disease will not relapse. After the surgical procedure, the patient may need chemotherapy. It is necessary to apply appropriate chemotherapy combinations to retreat the metastases within the surgical margins. Auxiliary treatment methods such as radiofrequency ablation can be used for this. Surgical intervention is not necessary for the advanced stages of the disease.
Especially in the fourth stage, chemotherapy is initiated. During the chemotherapy process, which can be applied locally or systemically, the oncologist can decide on the appropriate treatment method together with the patient. Today, metastases from colorectal cancers can be treated surgically, and thanks to advances in medicine, some kidney tumors, some ovarian tumors, and some pancreatic tumors can also be prolonged.
Colon and Rectal Cancer Liver Metastasis
Managing the disease and treatment of liver metastases from colon cancer and achieving the best outcome is like a maze puzzle with many entrances but only one exit. This means that it is not easy to know which of the many different treatment options, and in which order, will be successful in the treatment and give the best results. This is why these patients often need a combination of different treatment modalities such as chemotherapy, smart drugs, tumor burning, radiotherapy, and surgery. This group of patients requires expertise to manage, it is useful to discuss the patient’s condition in multidisciplinary patient councils, and it is only when the disease is managed correctly that the longest survival and freedom from the disease can be achieved.