Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Surgery, Treatment 
Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Surgery, Treatment 

Understanding Colon Cancer: Insights from Top Gastroenterologists

Colon cancer originates in the large intestine. According to the report, one person out of a group of 20 is at risk of developing colon cancer.

The positive news is that there are available treatments for colon cancer, and it is a condition that can be cured.

The treatment for colon cancer involves a collaborative approach conducted by a team of healthcare professionals.

Meet the Experts: Dr. Vikas Singla, Dr. Nikhil Agrawal, Dr. Bhuvan Chugh

Today, our team will be addressing the primary concern of colon cancer.

Hello, I’m Dr. Vikas Singla, a gastroenterologist specializing in the diagnosis of colon cancer.

I’m Dr. Nikhil Agrawal, a GI onco-surgeon, and I specialize in performing surgeries for colon cancer.

And I’m Dr. Bhuvan Chugh, a medical oncologist. My role is to provide support after treatment.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Let’s understand the symptoms of colon cancer.

The primary symptom of colon cancer is often the presence of blood in the stool. If the cancer is located on the left side of the colon, red blood may be visible. However, when the cancer is on the right side of the colon, blood might not be visible externally, but diagnostic tests can still detect its presence.

To assess this condition, we proceed with a “stool occult blood” test. If the results are positive, it indicates an increased likelihood of colon cancer.

Another symptom of colon cancer is pain in the lower part of the stomach. As the size of the cancer increases, patients may experience pain below the belly button.

The subsequent symptom of colon cancer is weakness. When blood consistently appears in the stool, it can lead to a decrease in the patient’s haemoglobin levels, contributing to feelings of weakness. Additionally, individuals may experience a reduced appetite and unintentional weight loss.

In addition to other symptoms, altered bowel habits are a common manifestation of colon cancer. Patients may experience constipation or diarrhea as part of the changes in their bowel movements.

Not all these symptoms are exclusive to colon cancer. Other medical conditions may present with similar symptoms as well.

Diagnostic Procedures: Colonoscopy and Biopsy

Once colon cancer is suspected, various tests are conducted to confirm the diagnosis.

We conducted several blood tests and a specific diagnostic procedure known as colonoscopy.

For a colonoscopy, patients are typically given medication one day prior to the procedure to facilitate the clearing of the colon, ensuring optimal conditions for examination the next day. It’s important to note that a colonoscopy is considered a safe and generally painless test.

Before the procedure, a sedative injection is administered to induce sleep in the patient. Once the patient is asleep, the colonoscopy is performed. This approach helps ensure the comfort and cooperation of the patient during the examination.

If there is a suspicion of cancer during a colonoscopy, a biopsy is often taken to confirm the diagnosis. It’s important to note that the biopsy performed during a colonoscopy is generally considered safe, as the process itself does not cause the spread of cancer.

Confirmation of the biopsy sample is achieved by examining it under a microscope.

During a colonoscopy, polyps are sometimes discovered, and we can examine them in real-time. If we suspect a polyp to be a tumor, we have the capability to remove it during the colonoscopy.

Treatment Options: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy

After a diagnosis of colon cancer, the subsequent steps involve staging and treatment planning. Staging typically includes blood tests and CT scans. These scans examine the stomach and chest to determine the location of the colon cancer and whether it has spread to other areas, such as the liver or lungs. This information is crucial for developing an effective treatment strategy.

If cancer is localized, we assess its size, determining whether it is advanced or small.

Once we determine these aspects, we formulate a treatment plan based on the information gathered from a CT scan. If colon cancer is localized, surgery becomes a viable option for a potential cure. During the surgical procedure, we excise the affected portion of the colon along with surrounding healthy tissues and associated lymph nodes. Following the removal of these components, we reconnect the remaining sections of the intestine to restore continuity.

In the past, surgeries were typically performed using an open method, involving a large incision. However, contemporary approaches now Favor laparoscopic or robotic methods. These techniques involve making small incisions through which specialized instruments, including a microscope, are used to conduct the operation.

This modern approach offers several advantages, such as quicker recovery times. Patients undergoing laparoscopic or robotic surgeries often experience a faster recovery and can be discharged within 4-5 days, allowing them to resume their normal activities sooner.

In the case of rectal cancer, the treatment approach differs slightly. Typically, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are administered as initial steps, followed by surgical intervention. This sequence is often employed to optimize the effectiveness of the treatment and enhance the chances of successful outcomes for patients with rectal cancer.

Advanced Treatments: Immunotherapy and Monoclonal Antibodies

The removed colon is sent for biopsy, allowing us to determine the stage.

After performing the surgery, we thoroughly examine the patient’s histopathology report.

The patient’s apprehension about the potential recurrence of the illness drives the decision to administer chemotherapy. In cases where the histopathology report indicates an advanced tumor, chemotherapy is typically recommended. The standard duration for chemotherapy is 3-6 months, with sessions scheduled every two weeks. The administration of chemotherapy through nerves is preferred as it has been shown to reduce the likelihood of disease recurrence.

Patients should be aware of potential side effects associated with chemotherapy. When discussing treatment with an oncologist or medical oncologist, they typically provide an explanation of these side effects.

Once your chemotherapy is completed, you will follow a five-year post-treatment plan with your doctor. This plan includes regular CT scans and colonoscopies to monitor for any potential recurrence of the disease. In the event of a recurrence, prompt and appropriate treatment options are available, and a potential cure is achievable.

Rectal cancers, occurring in the lower part of the large intestine, often involve a treatment approach where chemotherapy and radiotherapy are administered prior to surgery. This pre-emptive strategy aims to reduce the recurrence of the disease.

It’s noteworthy that advanced and metastatic cancers, which have spread through the bloodstream, should not instil fear in patients. In the current medical landscape, there are drugs available that can target and manage cancers that have disseminated in the blood.

Modern advancements include new drugs such as Monoclonal Antibodies and immunotherapy, which have shown promising results in treating this type of cancer. These treatments contribute to effective control.

In the case of colon and rectal cancers, when they are localized, viable treatment options are available. Even when they have metastasized, providing both a good quality and quantity of life is achievable through contemporary medical interventions.

Today, we explored the symptoms of colon cancer, discussed the diagnostic procedures, and examined available treatments. If someone is diagnosed with colon cancer, it’s important to know that there is no need to be frightened.

There are viable treatment options for this type of cancer.

I hope this information proves helpful to you.

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