Colon Cancer

The big intestine is where colon cancer typically first manifests itself (colon). The digestive system ends with the colon.

Colon cancer may strike anybody at any age, although it often strikes older persons. Small, benign (noncancerous) cell clusters called polyps commonly grow on the inside of the colon as the first signs of the condition. Some of these polyps may eventually develop into colon cancer.

Little polyps may have few, if any, symptoms. Because of this, medical professionals advise routine screening exams to help prevent colon cancer by locating and eliminating polyps before they develop into cancer.

There are several therapies available to help manage colon cancer, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and medication such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. The term colorectal cancer, which combines the terms colon cancer and rectal cancer (which starts in the rectum), is often used to refer to colon cancer.

Colon Cancer: Causes

Most colon cancers have unknown causes, according to doctors.

Colon cancer often starts when normal colonic cells experience genetic abnormalities (mutations). A collection of instructions that inform a cell what to perform may be found in its DNA.

Your body's healthy cells divide and develop in an organized fashion to maintain regular physiological function. But, when a cell's DNA is harmed and it becomes cancerous, it continues to divide even when new cells are not required. A tumor is created when the cells assemble.

The cancer cells may spread over time and engulf neighboring healthy tissue, causing it to be destroyed. Moreover, malignant cells might go to other bodily regions and deposit themselves there (metastasis).

Colon Cancer: Symptoms

The major symptoms include −

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the stool's consistency that lasts for a long time are examples of persistent changes in bowel habits.

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools

  • Ongoing abdominal discomfort that includes cramps, gas, or pain

  • A sensation that your bowels aren't emptied.

  • Weakness or exhaustion

  • Unaccounted-for weight loss

Early on in the illness, colon cancer is often symptomless in many patients. Depending on the size and location of cancer in your large intestine, symptoms may differ when they do.

Colon Cancer: Risk Factors

The major risk factors include −

  • Age. Although colon cancer can be discovered at any age, most cases occur in adults over the age of 50. Doctors are unsure of the reason why colon cancer rates in those under 50 have been rising.

  • Race of Black Americans. Compared to persons of other races, African-Americans are more likely to get colon cancer.

  • A personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer. You are more likely to get colon cancer in the future if you've already had noncancerous colon polyps or colon cancer.

  • Intestinal inflammation-related diseases. Colon cancer risk can be increased by chronic inflammatory illnesses of the colon such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

  • Disorders that are inherited and raise the risk of colon cancer. The risk of colon cancer might greatly rise if you have certain gene mutations that have been handed down through your family.

  • History of colon cancer in the family. If you have a blood family who has had colon cancer, you are more likely to have it yourself. Your risk is increased if many family members have colon or rectal cancer.

  • High-fat, low-fiber diet. A normal Western diet that is heavy in fat and calories and poor in fiber may be linked to colon and rectal cancer. The findings of this research have been conflicting. Those who consume diets heavy in processed and red meat are at an elevated risk of developing colon cancer, according to several research.

  • Sedentary way of life. Colon cancer is more prone to occur in those who are sedentary. Regular exercise may lower your chances of developing colon cancer.

  • Diabetes. Colon cancer risk is higher in people who have diabetes or insulin resistance.

  • Obesity. When compared to persons who are regarded to be of normal weight, those who are obese have a higher chance of developing colon cancer and a higher risk of dying from the disease.

Colon Cancer: Diagnosis

To diagnose colon cancer −

  • Inspect the interior of your colon using a scope (colonoscopy). A long, flexible, and thin tube connected to a camera and monitor allows a colonoscopy to see your whole colon and rectum. Your doctor may insert surgical instruments through the tube to obtain tissue samples (biopsies) for examination and remove polyps if any questionable regions are discovered.

  • A blood test. No blood test can diagnose colon cancer. But your doctor could examine your blood to look for signs of your general health, such as kidney and liver function tests.

A substance that is occasionally created by colon tumors may be detected in your blood by your doctor (carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA).

Colon Cancer: Treatment

Your doctor may suggest the following treatments based on the severity of the condition −

  • Colonoscopy procedure for removing polyps (polypectomy). Your doctor might be able to remove your cancer during a colonoscopy if it is tiny, localized, fully contained within a polyp, and in an extremely early stage.

  • Endoscopic excision of the mucosa. In a treatment known as an endoscopic mucosal resection, larger polyps may be removed during colonoscopy using specialized equipment to remove the polyp plus a small portion of the inner lining of the colon.

  • Surgery with little to no incision (laparoscopic surgery). Laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove polyps that cannot be eliminated during a colonoscopy. With a series of tiny incisions in your abdominal wall, your surgeon carries out this treatment while introducing devices with cameras attached, which show your colon on a video monitor.

Colon Cancer: Prevention

One can take the following preventive measures to avoid the chances of developing colon cancer −

  • A variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be consumed. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help prevent cancer. To acquire a wide range of vitamins and minerals, choose a selection of fruits and vegetables.

  • If you do consume alcohol, do it in moderation. If you prefer to consume alcohol, keep your intake to no more than one drink for women and two for men each day.

  • Give up smoking. Discuss quitting strategies that may be effective for you with your doctor.

  • Try to work out most days of the week. Strive to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days. If you haven't exercised lately, start lightly and work your way up to 30 minutes.

  • Keep a healthy weight. If you are a healthy weight, make an effort to keep it off by including regular exercise in your diet. Ask your doctor for advice on healthy weight loss methods if you need to shed some pounds. To lose weight gradually, increase the quantity of activity you get while cutting back on your calorie intake.


A considerable proportion of fatalities are brought on by the prevalent malignancy known as colon cancer. When detected early enough, it is largely treatable with surgery alone and could be prevented by screening. Patients with more advanced stages of the disease continue to have better survival thanks to modern treatment.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 30-Mar-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started