Colon Cancer Causes, Treatment| Cancer|Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer

Causes and Treatment of Colon Cancer

The causes of colon cancer may be attributed to a number of factors.

The risk factors that may lead to colon cancer include excessive intake of fat, alcohol, red meat, processed meat, smoking, obesity, lack of physical exercise, old age, male gender.

Patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) are found to be more probable victims of colon cancer. The longer the duration of IBD, more is the likelihood for the attack of colon cancer.

If there were incidences of cancer in the closest consanguine family members, like parents or siblings, the possibility of acquiring the disease increases considerably. The most common forms of inherited colon cancer show up the following indications:

  1. Hereditary Non-polyposis Colorectal Cancer – This is also known by its acronym HNPCC and has another name Lynch syndrome. Those with HNPCC who are aged below fifty are more likely to develop colorectal cancer. It is a common inherited form of neoplasia caused by germ-line mutations in DNA mismatch repairs (MMR).

  2. Familial Adenomatous Polyposis – This disorder causes the development of thousands of polyps in the internal layers of colon and rectum. Statistics reveal that people suffering from FAP became the victims of colorectal cancer before reaching the age of forty.

Treatment of Colon Cancer

Before proceeding with any type of treatment, doctors make a preliminary study or diagnosis of colon cancer by colonoscopy, biopsy, CT scan and blood tests. These tests will help doctors to locate the starting place of cancer in colon, the nature of tumour, the extent of its spread/metastasis.

If colon cancer is diagnosed in the initial stages, the disease is curable and many patients who were treated in the rudimentary stages have been found to continue to live with less after-effects for considerably long periods.

The treatment of colon cancer can be broadly divided into three categories :

  1.  Surgery for early stage colon cancer
  2.  Surgery for invasive colon cancer
  3.  Non-surgical treatment for advanced colon cancer

Colon Cancer

(A)-- Surgery for early stage colon cancer

i) Resection of polyps during colonoscopy: If the cancer is completely confined to polyps and not spread out on account of early stages, surgeons might choose to remove polyps during colonoscopy.

ii) Endoscopic mucosal removal: This involves surgical resection of larger polyps along with the suspected malignant region.

iii) Minimally invasive laparotomy: Surgical removal of polyps through colonoscopy is not feasible, if polyps are large in size and more in number. Surgeons make incisions at appropriate places on the belly to make way for themselves to remove polyps and other affected adjacent areas conveniently.

(B) Surgery for Invasive Colon Cancer

i) Partial colectomy: Under this procedure, the affected part of the colon is removed along with a margin of healthy tissue on either side of cancer and subsequently the healthy portions are joined together surgically.

ii) Surgical clearance of choked colon: The pathway for passage of post-digestion waste matter is surgically cleared for easing down the mechanism of excretion. A procedure called “ostomy” is employed wherein an orifice is surgically created to eliminate stool into a bag that fits perfectly on the opening. Many times ostomy is a temporary surgical act and further operation is carried out as the situation demands. However, there are cases in which colectomy might be permanent.

iii) Removal of lymph nodes: If the cancer has spread to lymphatic system, the affected lymph nodes are surgically removed.

(C)Non-surgical treatment for advanced colon cancer

i)  Chemotherapy: Certain specific drugs are prepared to be administered to the patient either by oral medication or injections with the sole motive of destroying cancerous cells. Mostly, chemotherapeutic drugs are used for killing malignant cells in lymphatic system. Chemotherapy is also used in shrinking the size of cancerous cells which may be removed by subsequent operations.

ii) Radiation therapy: High intense X-rays are clinically focused on the suspected cancerous cells for killing them. Another use of radiation therapy is to shrink the size of cancerous cells which can be surgically removed later conveniently.

iii) Targeted drug therapy: The malfunctioning of potentially malignant cells are targeted by using certain special medicines. At times, targeted therapy is used along with chemotherapy to ascertain the post-operative non-recurrence of cancer.

iv) Immunotherapy:-  In the case of certain patients with advanced colon cancer, the immunotherapy with antibodies like pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) may prove effective. The choice of immunotherapy is finalized by doctors on studying the results of test on tumour tissues.

v) Palliative Care:- Palliative care is a holistic approach in which the patient is treated not only for his health problems but even he is treated psychologically so that he attains mental peace, assurance on social security, spiritual appeasement, emotional strength.