A comprehensive diagnostic and treatment guide for colon and rectal cancers

Colon and rectal cancers are the third most common cause of death among all cancer types. When these cancer types are diagnosed early, very good treatment results can be obtained, especially with surgical methods. If certain risk factors are taken into account and the basic symptoms are well known, patients can easily detect suspicious situations and get an early diagnosis by consulting a physician. Prepared by our editors for the early diagnosis of these types of cancer,Colon cancer We present the Guide to the attention of our readers:

The large intestine and rectum are tumors that help us digest food and drink. The large intestine is about 1.5 m long. The rectum (the last part of the large intestine) is about 15 cm long. The type of cancer that settles in these areas is called colon cancer. Most people are shocked to learn that they have cancer. But the treatment of colon cancer is getting better and better every day. The earlier bowel cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of a complete cure.

What causes colon cancer? Symptoms, treatment and surgery

What are the causes of bowel cancer?

Food plays a big role in whether you get cancer or not.
The following issues increase the risk of developing bowel cancer:

  • If you eat a lot of meat
  • If you eat very few vegetables
  • if you are overweight
  • if you smoke
  • if you drink alcohol
  • If you do not move a lot in your daily life and do not do physical exercise
  • If you have a family history of colon cancer

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

If you have occasional constipation and/or diarrhea for weeks, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. Unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, or anemia can be a sign of bowel cancer. Problems with incomplete emptying of the bowel may be a sign of cancer in the rectum (the last part of the large intestine). Some patients may have pain, but this is especially common when the disease has spread. A large tumor in the intestine can lead to obstruction of the intestine and consequent intestinal entanglement.

Colon and rectum cancers: Which treatment is applied?

Bowel cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy (radiotherapy). Colon and rectal cancer are treated in different ways. Therefore, the treatment of these two types of cancer is considered separately.

What treatment is used for large bowel (colon) cancer?

Patients with colon cancer are operated on. In surgery, doctors remove the cancer tumor and part of the intestine on either side of the tumor. In most of the patients, after the tumor is removed, both ends of the intestine are attached to each other to ensure the continuity of the intestine. But in some patients, the intestine is connected out of the abdomen by opening a colostomy. Colostomy is the removal of the diseased part of the colon (large intestine) and opening the remaining part to the outside by surgically suturing it to the anterior abdominal wall. The task of the colostomy is to ensure that the stool is expelled from the mouth part called stoma through this artificial outlet. Colostomy surgery can be temporary or permanent.

Colon and rectal cancers: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the destruction of cancer cells with drugs. Chemotherapy is given to most patients intravenously. That is, the drug is delivered to your body in the form of a serum through the blood vessels. If initial tests show that the disease has spread throughout the body, chemotherapy is given before surgery. If cancer is found in the lymph nodes during the surgery, chemotherapy is given after the surgery.

What is rectal cancer? Causes, symptoms and treatment options

side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy affects both cancer cells and some of the normal body cells. Affecting normal body cells leads to side effects. The most common side effects are fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Some patients experience hair loss, but hair grows back after treatment ends. A small number of patients experience redness and peeling of the skin of the palms and soles of the feet, or watery eyes.

What treatment is used for rectal cancer?

If the cancer is located only in the rectum (the last part of the large intestine) and has not spread, you will be operated on. In rectal cancer surgeries, doctors remove the entire rectum or a large part of the rectum. After the surgery, both ends of the intestine are tied together again. Doctors often create a temporary colostomy to provide an environment for the bowel to heal. After healing, both ends of the intestine are tied together.

The tumor may occur very close to the rectum (anus), in these patients, the closing muscle that controls defecation should be removed, in which case a permanent colostomy is inserted. If the cancer grows outside of the intestine, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are administered before surgery. This reduces the risk of the cancer coming back in the future. If the tumor is inoperable, radiation therapy and chemotherapy shrink the tumor. After this treatment, it is possible to surgically remove the tumor in most patients.

Colon and rectum cancers: Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells. Radiation is given only to the cancer area. The treatment takes only a few minutes each time. You will not feel anything during radiation therapy.

Side effects of Radiotherapy & Radiation therapy

Some patients experience fatigue and some have diarrhea due to radiation therapy. Some patients continue their normal lives without experiencing any side effects. Prospectively, radiation therapy may lead to difficulties in stool control. Some patients have to use diapers for a period of time. Patients who have undergone surgery and radiation therapy need more frequent defecation.

Colon and rectal cancers: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the destruction of cancer cells with drugs. Chemotherapy is given intravenously (drop). In other words, the drug is given to your body in the form of serum through blood vessels.

side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy affects both cancer cells and some of the normal body cells. As a result, most patients experience fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. Some patients experience hair loss, but after the treatment is completed, the hair grows back. In a small number of patients, redness and crusting occur on the skin of the palms and soles of the feet. Side effects vary from person to person. Not everyone experiences the same side effects during treatment. Some side effects can be alleviated with medication.

Treatment of rectal cancer that has spread

If the cancer has spread to the liver or other organs, chemotherapy is applied. Chemotherapy is also used in cases where the disease reoccurs.

Treatment of rectal (anus) cancer

In rectal (anus) cancers, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are usually applied. This is the lightest and most effective treatment. In some cases, the tumor is completely removed by surgery.

Colon and rectal cancers: Out-of-hospital treatment

Most cancer patients resort to other treatments besides the treatment they receive in hospital, such as supportive nutrition. Some of these treatments may have an adverse effect on the treatment you receive from the hospital. For this reason, if you are thinking of starting another treatment other than or instead of the treatment that the doctors have applied to you, or in another place, for example; If you are considering treatment abroad, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Colon and rectal cancers: Smoking

If you smoke, it may be a good idea to quit. If you smoke, wounds are more difficult to heal after surgery. If you smoke, radiation therapy is less effective. Reducing tobacco use will not help. The most beneficial is to quit smoking completely.

What happens after treatment is completed?

It is completely normal to feel weak and tired after treatment. Physical activity and exercises can be beneficial for some patients with fatigue and can distract patients’ thoughts from the disease. It’s important to move and be physically active – like walking, for example. Eating healthy is also important. Talk to your doctor about which foods are good for you. Some patients benefit greatly from talking to other people who have previously had bowel cancer and have therefore felt the disease in their own body.

Living with a colostomy (stomy)

If a colostomy (stomy) is done, the intestine is mouthed to the abdomen, and stool comes out of the rectum (anus) instead of out. You should place a bag for stool in the place where the intestine is mouthed to the abdominal skin. Some patients do not use a bag, but can cover the hole with a band-aid or plug. Getting used to using a colostomy (stomy) can take time, and it’s a big change for the body. Some patients also have to change their eating habits.

Colon and rectal cancers: Control

After the treatment is completed, you will go for a checkup for a few years. If you have only been operated on, you will go for a checkup in the surgery department. If you have received chemotherapy, you will be checked by doctors in the oncology department. In the time between control visits, you should look out for these signs:
• Long-term changes in defecation functions
• blood in stool
• Pain
• Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms may not be signs that the disease has come back. But you need to be examined by a doctor.

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