What Causes Colon Cancer?
Dr. Babatunde Adeyefa and his team are passionate about creating awareness around colon cancer and preventing it.
The particular reason for the development of colon or rectal cancer is still unknown. However, there are factors that make an individual more likely to develop this disease.
Some of these factors include:
Age – Individuals aged 45 years or older.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) – Diseases of the colon that cause it to swell, including ulcerative colitis.
Genetics – Approximately 30% of those who develop colorectal cancer have a biological family member who has had the disease.
Diet – People who consume a diet that is low in fiber and high in fat are more likely to develop colon cancer.
A sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and obesity – A sedentary lifestyle increases an individual’s risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes. The best-established biochemical connection between colorectal cancer and obesity is insulin. Therefore, individuals who control their hyperinsulinaemic states (e.g., diabetes and metabolic syndrome) may be able to reduce their risk of developing colon cancer.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
For the most part, when colon cancer treatmentstarts during the early stages of this disease, the patient’s prognosis is highly favorable.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Unintentional and unexplained weight loss.
- Changes in bowel habits.
- Blood is present in the stool.
- Abdominal pain.
Colon Cancer Stages
There are five stages of colon cancer (i.e., 0 to IV).
- The cancer remains within the inner lining of the large intestine.
- Colon cancers that reach stage 1 are growing within the colon wall. The stage 1 cancers that are present within the layers of the wall have yet to spread outside the wall or into nearby lymph nodes.
- These cancers frequently grow beyond the colon wall and invade nearby tissue. However, the cancer has not spread to the patient’s lymph nodes.
- Once colon cancer reaches stage III, it has spread to the lymph nodes near the colon. Although the cancer is now present in these particular lymph nodes, it has not spread to any other area in the body.
- At stage IV, colon cancer has spread to other areas throughout the body. Colorectal cancer most frequently spreads to the liver. Nevertheless, it has also been known to spread to the lining within the abdominal cavity, the brain and the lungs, as well as to lymph nodes that are further from the colon.
Colon Cancer Treatment
Dr. Adeyefa is committed to both preventing and treating Colon Cancer. A patient’s treatment path will depend on his or her general health, as well as which stage the colon cancer has reached.
Typically, the gastroenterologist only needs to make a local excision to remove the cancerous area of the colon or polyp. Nonetheless, there are times when the area of cancer is too large for removal via a local incision. When this is the case, the surgeon performs a partial colectomy.
The gastroenterologist can remove cancerous polyps via a colonoscopy as long as cancer cells are not present at its margins (i.e., edges). Following removal, the patient may not need any other treatment.
If there are cancerous cells present at the margins or the cancer within the polyp is high grade, the surgeon may recommend additional surgery.
Colon cancers that are not part of a polyp are addressed with a partial colectomy. A partial colectomy involves surgically removing the cancerous section of the colon, as well as the lymph nodes that are near the colon. After this surgery, many patients require no further treatment for bowel cancer. However, if the patient is at an increased risk for a recurrence of the cancer, his or her gastroenterologist may recommend chemotherapy after surgery.
Factors that may increase the likelihood of colon-cancer recurrence include:
- The cancer has infiltrated into the nearby lymph or blood vessels.
- Upon close examination in the lab, the cancer is determined to be high grade (i.e., extremely abnormal).
- The cancer obstructs the colon.
- Cancer was present in or close to the edge of the tissue the surgeon removes, which means that some cancer could have been left behind.
- The surgeon neglected to remove a minimum of 12 lymph nodes.
- Due to punctures caused by the cancer, the wall of the colon is compromised.
The gastroenterologist may also recommend testing the tumor before the patient starts chemotherapy to determine whether this add-on treatment will be helpful.
The standard treatment for stage III colon cancer is surgical removal of the malignant section of colon (i.e., a partial colectomy). In addition, the surgeon removes nearby lymph nodes and the patient starts chemotherapy.
Sometimes, complete surgical removal of colon cancer in its advanced stages is impossible. These patients benefit from pre-surgical chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Having these treatments ahead of time can shrink the tumor, making surgical removal less complicated.
For the most part, surgery will not cure colon cancers once they reach stage IV. However, if the patient’s cancer has only spread to a few small areas, the gastroenterologist may recommend that the patient have surgery to remove the diseased areas. Stage IV surgery includes removal of the cancerous section of colon, as well as nearby lymph nodes. During this surgery, the gastroenterologist also removes the tumors in the areas to which the cancer has spread (e.g., the liver). Patients may receive another round of chemotherapy after surgery.
Why Allied Digestive?
Dr. Tunde Adeyefa and his team are dedicated to providing the best care for patients in the Houston area. Board-certified in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dr. Adeyefa believes education is paramount in the patient experience. At Allied, you’ll be given quality care in a nurturing environment.
Colon Cancer FAQs
Yes, approximately 30% of people who develop colon cancer have a family history of the disease.
Colon Cancer usually begins to spread within two years.
Interested In Learning More?
To learn more about what causes colon cancer, and how to prevent its development, contact Dr. Tunde Adeyefa at Allied Digestive or fill out the form below.