Colon cancer occurs when cells that line the colon become abnormal or grow out of control. This type of cancer develops over time. Cells will typically form growths or polyps before turning into tumors. Once tumors have developed, they can spread to the rest of the body. The good news is that if colon cancer is caught early, it is very treatable and survivors can live long and happy lives.
It is important that you take your health into your own hands. Knowing the symptoms and stages of colon cancer can help you to catch the disease early if you have it and increase your chances of survival. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about colon cancer stages and colon cancer symptoms.
Colon cancer symptoms
Some colon cancers can occur without any symptoms. That is why it is important to have a regular colonoscopy, especially if you are over the age of 50. That being said, most colon cancers have symptoms which can include:
- Blood in the stool. This is a noticeable sign but not a direct result of cancer.
- A change in bowel habits. Usually a symptom of less serious problems but incontinence, loose stool or constipation can be a symptom.
- Unexplained weight loss. Usually a sign of disease in general.
- Unexplained anemia. Not necessarily a sign of cancer but it can be
- Abdominal pain. Can also be caused by something else such as appendicitis.
If you experience any of these symptoms it is important that you seek medical advice immediately. The sooner the problem is caught, the more effective treatment will be.
Colon cancer stages
Doctors use the TNM system to classify colon cancer stages. In this system, the T stands for tumor, the N stands for node and the M stands for Metastasis. The tumor rating describes how far the primary tumor has grown into the bowel lining. The node rating describes the degree to which the cancer has spread to lymph nodes. The metastasis describes the extent to which the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Abnormal cells are found in the inner lining only. A small incision-based surgery should be the only colon cancer treatment that is required if cancer is caught at this stage.
The cancerous cells have grown into the muscular lining of the colon. They have not invaded areas outside of the colon, however. Surgery is performed on the affected areas if the cancer is caught at stage one.
At stage two colon cancer, the cancer has gone past the colon wall but has not yet affected lymph nodes. This stage is subdivided into three stages:
- Stage 2a: Cancer has spread through the colon wall but not spread to nearby tissue
- Stage 2b: Cancer has spread through the wall and grown into nearby tissue
- Stage 2c: Cancer has spread through the wall, into muscular layers and has spread to lymph nodes.
At this stage, cancer has spread past the colon lining and affected a large number of lymph nodes. It has not yet spread to other organs of the body, however. Chemotherapy is typically used for colon cancer treatment at this stage after surgery has removed the tumors.
At stage four, colon cancer has spread to other areas of the body through blood and lymph nodes. Surgery is still possible at this stage, but chemotherapy is typically used to shrink tumors and prolong life.
Colon cancer treatment
The good news is that colon cancer is very treatable if caught early. We can even treat the disease if it has developed past stage two. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with colon cancer, please call our center to find out how our personalized colon cancer treatment can help.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is painful in itself, but your decision making process doesn’t have to be. Patients have many choices when it comes to treatment. It is important to weigh your options and know what your insurance covers. Typically, seeing an oncologist at your local hospital is covered by insurance. But Causenta doesn’t believe in a “just add water”, box cake recipe. Most of the testing and procedures at Causenta may not be covered by insurance, but it’s because our approach is unique to each individual. Our treatments are designed with only you in mind and our goal is to equip your body with the necessary ingredients to beat cancer.