What?!! I have colon cancer?
The thing that is most difficult to do is to tell my patients that they have colon cancer, or any cancer to be exact..
The problem is that most people attribute 'pain' with 'disease'..So here I am to tell you this...
Colon cancer do not cause any pain
It usually starts off as a small polyp which then grows and with the presence of abnormal genes turns these growth into cancerous tissues. Most patients start off by having altered bowel habit, which means that from passing motion everyday, now they don't pass motion for 2-3 days and when they do, it comes out wattery and sometimes mixed with blood. The abdomen might be distended and in severe cases, when the lumen of the bowel is totally obstructed, vomiting would then occur. I have even seen patients vomiting out faecal material!! (a case of too scared to come to the hospital early)
Below are the symptoms that one may experience if they have colon cancer..
Once you present with the above symptoms, the doctor would then schedule a colonoscopy for you. You will have to take a liquid which cleanses your bowel for the procedure. Usually a sheet of paper with instructions on what to eat and what not to eat will be given to you prior to the colonoscopy procedure.
During the procedure, you will be given some sedatives. Most patients I see at the clinic, their main concern is regarding pain. Well, I do agree that the procedure might cause some discomfort but most patients do not recall at all what happened during the procedure due to the sedative given. The discomfort is mainly due to the scope passing through the bowel especially at acute angulations in the colon.
The scope will be passed through the whole of your colon. Any growths will be biopsied and sent for pathological study (this is where a doctor views the specimen under a microscope and reports any abnormal cells)
At my centre, the result of the biopsy would take about 2-3 weeks. You will be seen at the clinic and the findings would be revealed. If the results came back as carcinoma of the colon, then you would be scheduled for an operation depending on the location of the cancer.
A CT scan staging would also be scheduled. Most patients on hearing that they have cancer, the first thing they ask is 'What stage am I doctor?' The doctor CANNOT determine the stage of the cancer until a CT scan of the thorax,abdomen and pelvis has been done. Any lesions found elsewhere from the original site of the cancer (lungs,liver,bone) would be labelled as stage 4.
So what are the risks of someone getting a cancer of the colon? Genetics is one of them. Conditions such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) -- where the whole colon is full of polyps, if left untreated is 100% prone to develop colon cancer. If you have a very strong family history of colon cancer, then you would probably need to do a colonoscopy, as you might be one of those who has FAP. Below are other risks which are associated with colon cancer.
So what can you do to reduce your risks of getting colon cancer?
Adopt a healthy lifestyle...Go jogging...and eat foods that can reduce your risks..
There are a lot of foods that when consumed on a regular basis could reduce your risks of getting cancer. These include olive oil, berries, ginger and ginseng just to name a few. Or if you have difficulty in taking these foods, you can consume certain types of supplements instead. But that's another topic.
So the next time you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, please go to your doctor and get a colonoscopy done.
Health is Wealth..