I chose to do colon cancer aside from others because my grandmother is currently dying from cancer which started out as colon cancer. I will post the
death date if nobody minds to give you a good example of just how fast it kills over a certain amount of times and what procedures were done to try
and cure her. Im going to start with the normal layout, and continue editing my research as time persists. I understand SE7EN has this topic also, but
I am going to ponder with my research.
Back ground information:
The cause of colon cancer:
The signs and symptoms of colon cancer:
The treatment for colon cancer:
The side effects of colon cancer:
Related links to the alternative teatment to colon cancer:
Research: Colon Cancer
Back ground information:
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It affects both men and women about equally and kills more people
annually than either breast cancer or prostate cancer. The reason why there is a high incidence is the lack of awareness, lack of media attention,
embarrassment factor, and not enough people taking an active role in monitoring their own health. However, there is over a 90% cure rate if colon
cancer is caught early enough. Colon cancer is preventable and treatable. The main key is early detection through screening. The goal of screening is
to detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps, which is the source of nearly all colon cancers. Colon cancer can strike with no warning signs. However,
one of the most frequent and common early warning sign is blood in stool from the bleeding polyps. This warning sign is often not noticed because the
blood is not visible to the human eye or not acted upon.
The cause of colon cancer:
Doctors are certain that colorectal cancer is not contagious (a person cannot catch the disease from a cancer patient). Some people are more likely to
develop colorectal cancer than others. Factors that increase a person's risk of colorectal cancer include high fat intake, a family history of
colorectal cancer and polyps, the presence of polyps in the large intestine, and chronic ulcerative colitis.
Diets high in fat are believed to predispose humans to colorectal cancer. In countries with high colorectal cancer rates, the fat intake by the
population is much higher than in countries with low cancer rates. It is believed that the breakdown products of fat metabolism lead to the formation
of cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). Diets high in vegetables, and high-fiber foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals may rid the bowel of
these carcinogens and help reduce the risk of cancer.
A person's genetic background is an important factor in colon cancer risk. Among first degree relatives of colon cancer patients, the life time risk
of developing colon cancer is eighteen percent (a threefold increase over the general population in the United States). Some families are affected by
an inherited disease called familial colon cancer. In families with familial colon cancer, many relatives develop colon cancer, often early in life.
Another inherited condition that causes colon cancer is called familial polyposis syndrome. In familial polyposis, many members of the family develop
countless numbers of polyps in their large intestine. Unless the condition is detected and treated early, a person affected by familial polyposis
syndrome is almost sure to develop colon cancer from these polyps over time.
Doctors believe that most colon cancers develop in colon polyps. Therefore, removing benign colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. Colon polyps
develop when chromosome damage occurs in cells of the inner lining of the colon. Chromosomes contain genetic information inherited from each parent.
Normally, healthy chromosomes control the growth of cells in an orderly manner. When chromosomes are damaged, cell growth becomes uncontrolled,
resulting in masses of extra tissue (polyps). Colon polyps are initially benign. Over years, benign colon polyps can acquire additional chromosome
damage to become cancerous.
The signs and symptoms of colon cancer:
Symptoms of colon cancer are numerous and non-specific. They include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools,
diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Other conditions such as irritable bowel
syndrome (spastic colon), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease can have symptoms that mimic colorectal
The tests for colon cancer. What procedures are done?:
When colon cancer is suspected, either a lower GI series (barium enema x-ray) or colonoscopy is performed to confirm the diagnosis and to localize the
A barium enema involves taking x-rays of the colon and the rectum after the patient is given an enema with a white, chalky liquid containing barium.
The barium outlines the large intestines on the x-rays. Tumors and other abnormalities appear as dark shadows on the x-rays.
Colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a doctor inserts a long, flexible viewing tube into the rectum for the purpose of inspecting the inside of the
entire colon. Colonoscopy is generally considered more accurate than barium enema x-rays, especially in detecting small polyps. If colon polyps are
found, they are usually removed through the colonoscope and sent to the pathologist. The pathologist examines the polyps under the microscope to check
for cancer. While the majority of the polyps removed through the colonoscopes are benign, many are precancerous. Removal of precancerous polyps
prevents the future development of colon cancer from these polyps
Can colon cancer be prevented? If so, how?:
Unfortunately, colon cancers can be well advanced before they are detected. The most effective prevention of colon cancer is early detection and
removal of precancerous colon polyps before they turn cancerous. Even in cases where cancer has already developed, early detection still significantly
improves the chances of a cure by surgically removing the cancer before the disease spreads to other organs. Multiple world health organizations have
suggested general screening guidelines.
It is recommended that all individuals over the age of forty have yearly digital examinations of the rectum and their stool tested for hidden or
"occult" blood. For individuals over fifty years of age, it is recommended they have flexible sigmoidoscopies every three to five years. In
individuals with a higher risk of developing colon cancer than the general population, screening colonoscopies may be performed.
The treatment for colon cancer:
Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer. If the cancer is limited to a polyp, the patient can undergo a polypectomy (removal of the
polyp), or a local excision, where a small amount of surrounding tissue is also removed. If the tumor invades the bowel wall or surrounding tissues,
the patient will require a partial resection (removal of the cancer and a portion of the bowel) and removal of local lymph nodes to determine if the
cancer has spread into them. After the tumor is removed, the two ends of the remaining colon are reconnected, allowing normal bowel function. In some
situations, it may not be possible to reconnect the colon, and a colostomy (an opening in the abdominal wall to allow passage of stool) is needed.
Despite the fact that a majority of patients have the entire tumor removed by surgery, as many as 40% will develop a recurrence. Chemotherapy is given
to reduce this chance of recurrence. There is some controversy over patients with stage II disease receiving chemotherapy. Studies have not
consistently shown a benefit in treating these patients. Generally, patients with stage II disease who present with a bowel perforation or
obstruction, or have poorly differentiated tumors (determined by a pathologist), are considered at higher risk for recurrence, and are treated with 6
to 8 months of Fluorouracil (5-FU) and Leucovorin (LV) (both chemotherapy agents). Other patients with stage II disease are followed closely, but
generally receive no chemotherapy. Patients who present with stage III colon cancer are typically treated with a regimen of Fluorouracil and
Leucovorin for 12 months.
Forty to fifty percent of patients have metastatic (disease that has spread to other organs) at the time of diagnosis, or have a recurrence of the
disease after therapy. Unfortunately, the prognosis for these patients is poor. The standard therapy for patients with advanced disease is
Fluorouracil, Leucovorin, and irinotecan (CPT-11). This regimen was found to be more effective than Fluorouracil and Leucovorin alone in these
patients. With this therapy, an average of 39% of patients have a response, but the average survival is still only 15 months. Patients and their
physicians must weigh the benefits of therapy versus the side effects of the treatment. Younger patients and those in better physical shape are better
able to tolerate therapy.
Two new medications, capecitabine (Xeloda) and oxaliplatin, are also being used in the treatment of advanced colon cancer. Capecitabine is currently
approved by the FDA for the treatment of advanced colon cancer that has failed treatment, but is still being investigated in untreated patients.
Oxaliplatin is widely used in Europe, but has not yet been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. Currently, patients can only receive this
medication in a clinical trial.
Colon cancer is not typically treated with radiation therapy. If the cancer has invaded another organ, or adhered to the abdominal wall, radiation
therapy may be one option. One way to understand this is that radiation needs a "target". If the tumor has been surgically resected, there is no
target to radiate. If the tumor has spread to other organs, chemotherapy is needed to reach all the tumor cells, whereas radiation can only treat a
Once a patient has completed chemotherapy, they must be followed closely for recurrence. The guidelines for follow-up surveillance, written by the
National Comprehensive Cancer Network are: physical exam (including digital rectal exam) every 3 months for 2 years, then every 6 months for 3 years,
CEA level checked every 3 months for 2 years, then every 6 months for 3 years, and colonoscopy in 1 year, repeat in 1 year if abnormal, or every 3
years if no polyps are found. There is not enough evidence to support or refute the use of chest x-ray or CT scan for surveillance at this time, so
this varies from physician to physician.
What does the future hold for patients with colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer remains a major cause of death and disease, especially in the Western world. A clear understanding of the causes and course of the
disease is emerging. This has allowed for recommendations regarding screening for and prevention of this disease. The removal of colon polyps helps
prevent colon cancer. Early detection of colon cancer can improve the chances of a cure and overall survival. Treatment remains unsatisfactory for
advanced disease, but research in this area remains strong and newer treatments continue to emerge. New and exciting preventive measures have recently
focused on the possible beneficial effects of aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents. In trials, the use of these agents has markedly limited colon
cancer formation in several experimental models. Other agents being evaluated to prevent colon cancer include calcium, selenium, and vitamins A, C,
and E. More studies are needed before these agents can be recommended for widespread use by the public to prevent colon cancer.
How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed and Staged?
After a cancer has been found, the stage must be determined to decide on appropriate treatment. The stage tells how far the tumor has invaded the
colon wall, and if it has spread to other parts of the body.
Stage 0 (also called carcinoma in situ) - the cancer is confined to the outermost portion of the colon wall.
Stage I - the cancer has spread to the second and third layer of the colon wall, but not to the outer colon wall or beyond. This is also called
Dukes' A colon cancer.
Stage II - the cancer has spread through the colon wall, but has not invaded any lymph nodes (these are small structures that help in fighting
infection and disease). This is also called Dukes' B colon cancer.
Stage III - the cancer has spread through the colon wall and into lymph nodes, but has not spread to other areas of the body. This is also called
Dukes' C colon cancer.
Stage IV - the cancer has spread to other areas of the body (i.e. liver and lungs). This is also called Dukes' D colon cancer.
After the tumor and lymph nodes are removed by a surgeon, they are examined by a pathologist, who determines how much of the colon wall and lymph
nodes have been invaded by tumor. Patients with invasive cancer (stages II, III, and IV) require a staging workup, including full colonoscopy,
carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level (a marker for colon cancer found in the blood), chest x-ray, and CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis, to determine
if the cancer has spread.
[edit on 2/9/05 by creamsoda]
[edit on 9-2-2005 by ADVISOR]