The Importance of Knowing Colon Cancer Detection and Symptoms that Can Cause Death

Colon cancer ( colorectal cancer ) is cancer that occurs in the lower digestive tract, namely the large intestine and rectum (the last part of the intestine before the anus). Based on data from the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. In Indonesia, colon cancer also ranks third most. The overall risk for getting colorectal cancer is 1 in 20 people. Therefore, it is necessary to know the risk factors, symptoms and early detection of colon cancer, so that it can be treated quickly and precisely.

Colon cancer risk factors are related to genetics and environmental factors (lifestyle and diet). People with low-fiber, high-fat diets tend to have a higher risk of colon cancer, as well as alcohol and smoking. Lack of physical activity, obesity, and diabetes are also associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Meanwhile, a balanced healthy diet, high in calcium and vitamins can reduce the risk of colon cancer. People who have a family history of colon cancer, or suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, should have an earlier medical check-up , to detect whether there is cancer in the digestive tract.

Symptoms of colon cancer in general are pain or cramps in the stomach, bloody bowel movements, changes in bowel habits , feeling tired quickly during activities, and extreme weight loss. If the cancer is large enough, you can feel a lump in your stomach.

It is very important to detect colon cancer as early as possible. Because colon cancer that can be diagnosed and treated at an early stage has a high cure rate. Several modalities can be used to detect colon cancer early, such as examination of occult blood in feces, colonoscopy, and abdominal CT scan. Examination can be started at the age of 45 years, and repeated every 10 years. Colonoscopy in patients with a family history of colon cancer should be started earlier, and with shorter repeat intervals.

Colon cancer treatment is determined based on the stage. In general, colon cancer is treated with one or a combination of surgery and chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Surgery is performed to remove the part of the colon that is affected by cancer, followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to reduce the recurrence rate. In addition, family support and psychosomatic therapy are also needed in the treatment of patients with colon cancer.

Patients with symptoms of colon cancer must be treated thoroughly, both physically and psychologically. Initially there will be an interview and physical examination by the treating doctor, then followed by lab tests and radiological examinations. Lab examinations such as routine blood tests and tumor markers, radiological examinations such as CT-scans or MRIs, including colonoscopy examinations to help diagnose.

Article written by dr. Felmond Limanu, Sp.B.SubBDig (Surgery Specialist - Digestive Surgery Sub Specialist at EMC Cikarang & Pekayon Hospital).