Colon cancer sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, could start in the colon or rectum. Some might refer to the issue as rectal cancer if it is mainly affecting the rectum. These conditions are usually grouped because they share several symptoms.
Cancer starts when the cells in the body start to multiply uncontrollably, and in this case, it begins in the colon.
To better understand this cancer, it's vital to understand how the colon and rectum works. Firstly, both parts are part of the large intestine.
The large intestine is a part of the digestive system, which most people learn about in school. This system is tasked with getting rid of waste. It's icky business, but it has to be done.
When someone refers to the large intestine, they are mostly talking about the colon. This is a tube full of muscles that stretches out to about five feet. It's wild to imagine something that large is inside the body, but it's there.
Waste passes through the colon and to the rectum, which connects to the anus. It's a long but important journey.
Food matter that passes through the small intestine ends up in the colon. The colon's job is to absorb water and salt from the leftover food matter.
It continues to do that until it gets to the rectum. The rectum represents the final six inches of the digestive system and is a sort of storage area for waste. The muscles stay tight until they relax enough for the waste to be released through the body's anus.
Colon cancers usually start with growths within the system. These growths don't belong in the rectum or colon, yet they can be found there. These are called polyps.
The truth is that these growths can appear and may not turn cancerous.
The chances of them becoming cancerous depend on the type of polyp that develops. For example, adenomatous polyps sometimes turn into cancerous polyps. If these are found, they need to be addressed.
Usually, if the polyp is larger than one centimeter, then it's worrisome.
If more than three polyps are found, then it's vital to investigate further. Normally, the risky polyps have to be removed surgically just to be safe, but that's a decision best left to the doctor after a proper examination.
If cancer takes hold and begins to form in these polyps or one of them, then these will grow. Given enough time, they will grow outward from the innermost layer of the colon or rectum.
The colon and rectum are made up of several layers that will be penetrated if cancer develops. The cancer cells that are already within the polyps can find their way into other parts of the body, and this can happen quite rapidly.
When the polyps begin to penetrate through some of those aforementioned walls, they could spread cancer cells into blood vessels within those walls. If the cells make it into these vessels, they can travel to various areas of the body.
While a person can read many articles relating to signs of colon cancer, the best thing to do is to have an examination.
The reality is that many of the signs linked to this type of cancer could also be a sign of other issues, which is why a proper examination is best though people should not wait till they notice something to have an examination.
It's best to have colon cancer screening before any signs show up because colon cancer might not always cause immediate symptoms.
A proper examination could catch polyps early, but they could also reveal other issues that require attention too, like irritable bowel syndrome or hemorrhoids, just to name a few things.
The following are signs of this type of cancer:
This only covers some of what colon cancer is. There's so much more to know and understand. For a more detailed answer, it's best to talk to a doctor or a colon cancer specialist, especially if one is experiencing some of these symptoms.