What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer? Who are at risk?

Colon cancer, which is 3rd in women and 2nd in men, is one of the most treatable types of cancer today thanks to early diagnosis. Emphasizing that colon cancer screening programs provide a great advantage, Assoc. Dr. Erdem Akbal listed what should be known about the disease. Does colon cancer show symptoms? Who should have regular screening?

Drawing attention to the high incidence of colon cancer in our country, Assoc. Dr. Erdem Akbal touched upon an important point: Colon cancer has a chance of early diagnosis and is among the top preventable cancer types.

Here is Assoc. Dr. Life-saving information from Erdem Akbal…

Colon cancer occurs as a result of abnormal cell growth in the large intestine. These growths into the intestinal lumen are called polyps or flat lesions. About 80% of all polyps are risk factors for cancer development. Cancer develops from polyps called adenoma or serrated adenoma. Since there is a certain time period between the development of polyp cancer, it is possible to detect these precancerous lesions before cancer develops. Dr. For this reason, Akbal states that early diagnosis may be possible with colon cancer screenings.

What are the risk factors for the development of colon cancer?

Age, smoking, alcohol, gender, obesity, decreased physical activity, having relatives with colon cancer in the family or genetically inherited cancer syndromes (bladder cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer) are risk factors for colon cancer.

What is the role of nutrition in preventing colon cancer?

In the development of colon cancer, there is a cellular defect in the epithelial cells of the colon in the first step. There are a number of dietary factors that trigger this disorder. Fat content in foods, especially animal fat content, is an important factor. It causes an increase in the production of some carcinogenic substances containing nitrous amine, which is a risk factor for cancer, by disrupting the bacterial order in the intestines, which is one of the most popular issues recently. High consumption of red meat causes the formation of some carcinogenic substances, resulting in an increase in the risk of colon cancer. A diet low in fiber and low in fruit and vegetables causes an increase in the risk of bowel cancer.

Watch out for cigarettes!

Smoking causes an increase in many types of cancer, especially lung cancer. Smoking also causes a significant increase in the development of colon cancer/polyp. The incidence of both bowel cancer and polyps is increasing, especially in long-term and high-level smokers.

It may not cause any complaints!

If the screening for colon cancer is not done on time in patients who have no complaints, the expected life expectancy in these patient groups is shorter because the disease usually progresses until the complaint occurs. However, it may cause different complaints depending on the location in the large intestine. Bleeding, constipation, abdominal pain, swelling in the abdomen, changes in bowel habits or changes in the shape of stool, weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and iron deficiency are among the signs of colon cancer.

Who should be screened?

Screening should be done to detect colon cancer and colon polyps at an early stage in people without any complaints. For this, the age limit of 50 has been introduced all over the world. Colon cancer screening is recommended for people over the age of 50, even if they do not have any complaints. Recently, it has been reported that screening can be done under the age of 50 according to certain criteria based on the scoring systems made according to cigarette alcohol use and gender.

In people with a family history of colon cancer, screening is usually started at the age of 40. In some special genetically transmitted cancer syndromes, screening should be started at a much earlier age. In people with complaints, examinations for colon cancer should be performed when deemed necessary, regardless of age limit.

How is colon cancer screening done?

Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy is the most reliable method for detecting colon polyp and cancer. Colonoscopy allows direct visualization of the large intestines, and biopsy from lesions such as polyps or cancer leads to diagnosis. Some tests such as stool occult blood test, fecal DNA test, virtual colonoscopy, double contrast graphy are used for screening. However, the diagnostic accuracy rate is low compared to colonoscopy.

If colon cancer or polyp is detected, can it be treated without surgery?

Polypectomy with endoscopy has been a routine procedure for a long time in the treatment of colon polyps and early-stage colon cancers. Recently, some large polyps/early stage cancers, which were previously only possible to be removed by surgery, can now be performed without surgery by methods called endoscopic mucosal resection, endoscopic submucosal dissection or endoscopic full-thickness resection.

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