Colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, occurs when cells grow out of control in the colon or rectum. These areas can form polyps, which are abnormal growths. Many of these are non-cancerous but some of them do turn into cancer.
At The Rx Advocates, we know that cancer is a difficult battle. There are already too many things to think about and the cost of your medication should not be one of them. We can help lower the cost of medications with our prescription discount program.
The colon, also known as the large intestine, is the place where the body removes salt and water from solid waste. From here, it goes through the rectum and the anus out of the body.
Colon cancer begins in the large intestine. Rectal cancer begins in the rectum. This is the last few inches of the large intestine. Colorectal cancer is when colon and rectal cancer occur at the same time. This is common.
The number of diagnosed cases has decreased in recent years because of screenings and lifestyle changes.
Different Types of Colon Cancer
There are different types of colon cancer. The types are important to know how to move forward with the disease.
- Adenocarcinomas: These for most colorectal cancers. Two less common subtypes are:
- Signet ring
- Carcinoid tumors
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)
Colon Cancer Causes
Most colon cancers have no specific, known cause. When healthy cells develop mutations in their DNA, they can become cancerous. The cells divide and the new cells, that are not needed, collect together to form a tumor.
Some factors can increase the risk of colon cancer. Those are:
- Age: Most colon cancer cases are in people over 50
- Race: African-Americans have a higher risk
- History of colorectal cancer or polyps
- Inflammatory intestinal diseases such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Family history of colon cancer
- A diet that is low in fiber and high in fat
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Heavy use of alcohol
- Previous radiation therapy directed at the abdomen
- Genetic syndromes:
- Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Many times, there will be no immediate symptoms of colorectal cancer. When symptoms come, they can include:
- Bowel changes that last more than a couple of days:
- Narrowing of the stool
- Feeling the need to have a bowel movement and having no relief after having one
- Bright red bleeding from the rectum
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in the stool giving it a black or dark brown appearance
- Weight loss
Treatment for colon cancer will depend on the type and stage of cancer. The other important factors will be the health, age, and medical history of the patient.
Common treatments include:
- Polyp removal
- Endoscopic mucosal resection
- Partial colectomy
- Lymph node removal
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Palliative care
Making some important changes can be key in catching colon cancer early or even preventing it from starting.
- Screenings: The American Cancer Society recommends regular colonoscopies to start at age 45. These will find polyps and remove them. They will be tested to see if they are cancerous.
- Eat a healthy diet: Increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Decrease red meat and processed foods.
- Exercise regularly
- Control weight
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol: No more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 for women.
There are a variety of medications that could be prescribed for colon cancer. They could be used singularly or in combination.
Some of those are:
- Keytruda (Pembrolizumab)
- Alymsys (Bevacizumab)
- Eloxatin (Oxaliplatin)
- Opdivo (Nivolumab)
- Fluorouracil Injection
- Erbitux (Cetuximab)
- Cyramza (Ramucirumab)
This is not a complete list.