Colon Cancer 1
Instructor Stacy Thorn
March 9, 2014
Colon Cancer 2 Colon cancer is cancer that occurs in the cells of the colon. Colon cancer is quite common, being the third most common cancer in men and women in the U.S. About 110,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. Some health experts consider colon and rectum cancers as one group, called colorectal cancer. Others treat these two cancers as completely separate: colon cancer and rectum (rectal) cancer. In addition to the approximately 110,000 new cases of colon cancer each year, there are an additional 40,000 cases of rectal cancer, bringing the combined total of colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer to approximately 150,000 new cases per year (2004). About 95% of all colon cancers are adenocarcinomas. The other 5% of colon cancers are made up of less common cell types including neuroendocrine tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, melanomas, leiomyosarcomas, and signet ring cell tumors. Some of these cell types may sound familiar to you, because they occur in other parts of the body, too. For example, melanoma most commonly occurs in the skin, but it can occur in the colon and other areas, as well. Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and nonspecific. They include: fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools,diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease can have symptoms that mimic colorectal cancer (2004).
Colon Cancer 3 When colon cancer is suspected, either a lower GI series (barium enema X-ray) or colonoscopy is performed to confirm the diagnosis and locate the tumor. A barium enema involves taking X-rays of the colon and the rectum after the patient is given an enema with a white, chalky liquid containing barium. The barium outlines the large intestines on the X-rays. Tumors and other abnormalities appear as dark shadows on the X-rays. Colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a doctor inserts a long, flexible viewing tube into the rectum for the purpose of inspecting the inside of the entire colon. Colonoscopy is generally considered more accurate than barium enema X-rays, especially in detecting small polyps. If colon polyps are found, they usually are removed through the colonoscope and sent to the pathologist. The pathologist examines the polyps under the microscope to check for cancer. Colonoscopy is the best procedure to use when cancer of the colon is suspected. While the majority of the polyps removed through colonoscopes are benign, many are precancerous. Removal of precancerous polyps prevents the future development of colon cancer from these polyps. Many people fear getting checked for colon cancer. They hear stories of how painful it might be and how uncomfortable it is. According to Clinaero, Inc. (2006-2010), “Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States” (2000-2008). Colon cancer usually starts in the large intestines from something called polyps. This then can expand into nearby tissues and organs. It can also break away and move into the liver and lungs, which in turn can cause new tumors. Symptoms of colon cancer vary drastically. There are also many options for treatments if someone does have colon...
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