Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract.

Colon cancer typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age. It usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.

Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer.

If colon cancer develops, many treatments are available to help control it, including surgery, radiation therapy and drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Colon cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer, which is a term that combines colon cancer and rectal cancer, which begins in the rectum.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatments of Colon Cancer

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Surgery

A colectomy is surgery to remove all or part of the colon. Nearby lymph nodes are also removed. If only part of the colon is removed, it’s called a hemicolectomy, partial colectomy, or segmental resection. The surgeon takes out the part of the colon with the cancer and a small segment of normal colon on either side.

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat colorectal cancer Capecitabine, a pill that is changed into 5-FU once it gets to the tumor. Irinotecan Oxaliplatin Trifluridine and tipiracil, a combination drug in pill form.

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Radiation

Radiation uses a powerful beam of energy, similar to that used in X-rays, to target and destroy cancerous cells before and after surgery. Radiation therapy commonly occurs alongside chemotherapy.

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