What does the colon do?
The colon does three things: digests and absorbs nutrients, store and control the expelling of feces, and absorbing fluid and electrolytes from feces. The interesting thing is that the right side of the colon is what absorbs the water and electrolytes and the left is what stores and expels the feces.
Why is colon cancer so bad?
Colon cancer is usually in the form of tumors that attach to the lining of the walls of the colon and it can also affect the rectum or the mouth of the colon. Statistics show that about one in 17 people get colon cancer every year. If cancer attacks your colon, it can cause major problems by spreading throughout it and attacking the nearby lymph nodes and other organs, as well as the bones.
Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of colon cancer can mean the difference between catching the disease in time to treat it and having it invade other sections of the body before treatment for colon cancer can help stop the problem. It is the third leading cause of men’s cancer and the second highest cause of cancer in women of Hispanic origin.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon cancer symptoms include several things to look for. These include:
- Bleeding from the rectum or with a bowel movement
- Pale Skin
- Iron deficiency
- Abdominal bloating and extension (usually when a tumor is obstructing the colon)
- Sudden loss of weight
- Stomach pain
- Pain with bowel movements
- Thin, ropey bowel movements
- Feeling like you aren’t through with a bowel movement
How do you test for colon cancer?
Colon cancer symptoms are followed up with medical tests such as a fecal occult blood test where you take a stool sample to the doctor to test for blood in it. The doctor may also do a rectal exam with a gloved finger to check for bleeding or to see if they can actually feel an obstruction.
A good way to check for problems that could develop into symptoms of colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which checks the entire length of the intestines and colon and is recommended starting at 50 years of age. It looks for suspicious polyps or tumors or other issues.
Another exam sometimes used to check the colon is a Flexible sigmoidoscopy, but this doesn’t check the entire length and so isn’t as valuable as the colonoscopy to check for symptoms of colon cancer.
Treatment for Colon Cancer
Treatment for colon cancer usually means removing the polyps during a colonoscopy, or if necessary, part or even the entire colon may have to be removed via surgery. Victims may also be given chemotherapy to help ensure the cancer is gone after surgery is done. Since the person will no longer have colon, they may have to be fitted with a colostomy bag to allow them to pass waste.
All in all knowing the symptoms of colon cancer, as well as the treatment for colon cancer can make the difference between life and death so it is very important to know both.