Colon Cancer: A Definitive Guide

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colon Cancer is the cancer of the large intestine. When malignant cells start developing at the intestine, colon cancer happens. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States Of America. It can happen in people of any age group, but risks are higher for older adults.

Colon cancer starts with the formation of polyps. Polyps are abnormal tissue growths that happen in the interior lining of the colon or rectum. 

When these polyps become cancerous over a period of time, colon cancer occurs. Early symptoms of colon cancer are not recognizable, therefore regular screening is recommended.

Stages Of Colon Cancer

There are four colon cancer stages:

Stage 0 Colon Cancer

  • It is the earliest stage of colon cancer.
  • Cancer does not go beyond the interior lining of the colon or mucosa(the innermost layer of the colon). 
  • Nearby lymph nodes remain protected.

Stage 1 Colon Cancer

  • Cancer has invaded beyond the mucosa.
  • It affects submucosa(the next layer of the colon) but has not gone outside the colon. 

Stage 2 Colon Cancer

  • Cancer spreads past the walls of the colon.
  • Lymph nodes remain unaffected.
It can further be classified into three sub-stages:

Stage 2A: Cancer spreads to the outer walls of the colon called serosa, but not outside it.

Stage 2B: Cancer moves out of the serosa and reaches visceral peritoneum(the membrane that wraps around internal organs of the body).

Stage 2C: Cancer starts spreading to the surrounding organs. 

Stage 3 Colon Cancer

  • Cancer moves out of the colon and affects the nearby lymph nodes.
  • The other organs of the body remain protected.

is further classified into three sub-stages based on the affected layers and lymph nodes. 

Stage 4 Colon Cancer

  • It is the final stage of colon cancer.
  • Cancer spreads to distant organs through lymph nodes and blood.

What Causes Colon Cancer?

In a typical case, cells obey a standard procedure of growth, division, and death. When there is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon, it causes colon cancer. The cancerous cells can also affect the nearby tissue in the later stages. The condition then becomes difficult to treat and leads to death. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Also Read: Cirrhosis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Tips To Prevent Colon Cancer

Most people disregard the importance of colon cancer as compared to other types of cancer. It is a severe disease that takes millions of lives in the U.S. every year. Colon cancer is preventable. This section of the blog will let you know how to prevent colon cancer

Get Screened

Getting screened frequently is one of the best and most effective ways of preventing colon cancer. The problem can be detected at an early stage when it’s most treatable. 

Even if your screening report comes clean, consider the preventive measures, and reduce the risk of the disease. 

Several screening tests are available for colon cancer. Some are easier to be performed, while others are a bit complex. Take the test according to your interest and medical records. 

Some of the colon cancer screening tests are listed below:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test
  • Fecal Immunochemical Test
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT Scan
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema
  • Stool DNA Tests

Avoid Smoking

Smoking not only leads to various heart and lung disorders but also increases the risk of several types of cancer. If you’re an active smoker, quitting cigarettes can be very beneficial for you. The damage caused by cigarette smoking to the body is reversible and starts soon after your last cigarette.

Have A Healthy Diet

Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet and maintain a healthy weight. After smoking, obesity is the next most significant risk factor for various health conditions, including colon cancer.

Take enough of calcium and vitamin D

Sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D help prevent colon cancer. If you live in the northern regions of the country and couldn’t get enough sunlight, always monitor your vitamin D levels.

Perform Workout

Being inactive can increase your risk of colon cancer. Involve yourself in one or the other physical activities and eradicate your risk for the disease. 

Avoid Alcohol Consumption

If you consume excessive amounts of alcohol every day, it’s high time you should reduce it. Drinking one drink a day for men, and two drinks per day for women is considered okay.

Treatment Alternatives For Colon Cancer

Colon cancer treatment alternatives are listed below:

1. Surgery

Endoscopy: A slim tube with a light and a camera attached to it is inserted in the body. It takes pictures of the digestive tract and determines the issue. The doctor removes cancerous tissues with the help of an attachment connected to it. 

Laparoscopy: In this, single or multiple incisions are made in the abdomen to take out larger polyps. 

Palliative Surgery: The surgeon tries to relieve the symptoms of colon cancer with the method. It cannot completely cure the disease, but makes the pain and bleeding manageable in the advanced stages. 

2. Chemotherapy

It is an extreme form of chemical drug therapy in which the doctor destroys rapidly growing cells. Oncologist performs this therapy on patients as the cancerous cells grow and divide very fast as compared to healthier cells. 

Possible side effects:
  • Weakened immune system
  • Hair Loss
  • Bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problem
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Rashes 
  • Pain
  • Mouth sores 

3. Radiation Therapy

High-intensity beams of gamma rays are provided to the malignant cells. It kills the cancerous cells in the body and shrinks the tumor.

Possible side effects:
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • vomiting 



Tags: colon cancer treatment, early symptoms of colon cancer, colon cancer stages, how to prevent colon cancer

Photo of author

Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.