Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer is an abnormality formed in the cells of the colon and large intestines. The colon connects to the rectum and anus and together they form a long tube known as the large bowel. Through the large bowel is where the final body's waste is stored for later release.
Cancer cells are malignant cells found in the colon that can be start out as simple polyps and eventually develop into a malignant mass of tissue. Benign tumors are not cancerous and thus do not spread to other parts of the body, whereas, cancerous cells can not only damage the surrounding tissue, but can also spread to other organs of the body through the lymphatic system.
Colon cancer is either caused by mutated chromosomes eventually forming a benign tumor, which over time can accumulate and form a malignant mass if not removed early on, or by a person's genetic make-up.
Genetically-derived malignant tumors account for more than 20% of the cases for all colon cancers. Most colon tumors can be identified by the symptoms of rectal bleeding, constipation, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes and ulcerative colitis. In the light of these suspicious symptoms, there are several options for identification and removal of tumors in the colon. Your doctor may suggest the following tests:
GI, or gastrointestinal series
Fecal occult blood test
DCBE – Double contrast barium enema
DRE – Digital rectal exam
You may decide which exam, or a combination of exams is most effective for identifying and removing the tumor. As soon as a tumor is removed a routine pathology exam is often recommended for confirming whether the tumor is malignant or not. Most malignant tumors are easily removed and treated if they have not yet started the process of metastasis.
In order to ensure that there are no relapses or recurrence of the colon cancer, it is important to follow-up on routine exams since cancers can recur near the site where the previous growth was removed. Follow-up exams should also include areas near the colon such as the ovaries, breasts and prostates in order to rule out any possible metastases that could have taken place before the removal of the cancerous tissue.